hard workout or race it is important to do everything you can to
facilitate your recovery. Doing so will allow you to return
to training and racing at full capacity more quickly than not.
sessions and race efforts you will leave you dehydrated, deplete
your muscle glycogen stores, inflict muscle breakdown aka
microtrauma, and perhaps even some degree of tendon/ligament
stress if the event is difficult enough.
all fairly normal in the world of endurance racing.
session is complete the first thing you should do grab some fluid
for hydration then head out for a cool down effort of some sort -
don't just stop cold and sit down on your bum. For shorter
events/workouts, a long easy jog, swim, or ride is totally appropriate.
For longer events a few minutes of walking around is probably all
you're really up to and is definitely better than just stopping
cold. This will help your body absorb some of the lactate
floating around, flush out metabolic waste product (urea), and
give your body a chance to rev back down from 100% to closer to
not 100%. :)
next step is to keep drinking fluids with electrolytes and crank
some calories back into your system. The optimal window for
restoring your muscle glycogen (the stored energy within muscles
and your liver) is really 30 minutes and no greater than one hour
once you stop moving. While glycogen is replaced by
carbohydrates, your torn up muscles will require protein in order
to start the rebuilding process. Protein in post-workout
nutrition has also been researched to enhance the glycogen
storage effect. A general recommendation for your
carb-protein post workout ratio is 4:1 (grams - each gram of
protein and carbohydrate equals 4 calories).
total amount depends on how long your race/hard session was and
how big you are, but you might shoot for 300-400 total calories
for 1 hour type races within that 30 minute window, and angle
upwards from there - for an Ironman or marathon race or training
simulation you should start eating soon after and keep eating for
a few hours :).
meals are the easiest to absorb immediately post-workout and
there are a number of products on the market that can fulfill
note that for easy and/or short workouts your needs are less
because your breakdown and storage use is less - cramming a bunch
of food in your mouth after those short workouts might be counter
productive in the grand scheme of things. :)
you're off for rest - take it easy for the rest of the day, using compression gear (link) has
some studied effect on reducing the delayed onset of muscle
soreness (DOMS), and sleep - when your body goes into overdrive
on repair and replace at the cellular level. During sleep
we all release more human growth hormone, which is a primary
stimulant for rebuilding your body.
workout the day after the race or hard workout is appropriate for
short races as well as for long-course athletes who are
accustomed to higher training loads. For some, another day
of rest and really light activity like walking is best.
5 minute ice bath soon after a race or hard workout may be
helpful but the research on the effectiveness of this is inconclusive
(link) and the practice is potentially dangerous.
- after your race or hard session: Rehydrate, refuel, rest, use
compression gear, sleep well, and train commensurate to your
athletic ability in the days following.