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Road to Racing Recovery

The following originally appeared in the weekly newsletter sent to the tri team I lead through Team in Training.

Welcome to Peak training. This is the time of year, leading up to race day, where we as coaches ask the most of you. Long sessions? Yup. Hills? Of course. Intervals? Over and over my friends. During the Peak training phase, you should spend as much time thinking about your recovery as you should the actually exercise. Here are some tips to keep your body happy.

SLEEP
Make sure you are getting a good night’s rest, whatever that means for you. This time of year I often get the question, “If I have an additional 30 minutes per day what’s one more thing I could be doing to race stronger?” My answer: Go to bed early.

POST-EXERCISE NUTRITION
This is worth mentioning again. You have a 15 to 30 minute window to replenish your muscle glycogen stores (read: sugar or energy). If you miss that window it can impact your next exercise session. Refuel early!

ICE BATHS
You need not fill a bathtub with bags of ice to receive the benefits of a cold soak. Rather, set the tap water to its coldest setting and soak your legs for 15 minutes. The tradition following Grandma’s Marathon is to go stand in Lake Superior after the race.

INVERT
Lay on your back with your legs up the wall (or tree or couch or car or whatever). It’s that simple. Both this and the ice bath have the effect of pulling blood out of your legs, where it has a tendency to pool, and in to your core. This gives the body a chance to move fresh blood back into the legs when you finish your inversion. Both this and the ice bath are best done the night of or the day after a hard exercise session.

STRETCH
I don’t care what the mixed science says. Anyone who doesn’t feel better after a good stretch is either doing it wrong or lying.

YOGA
I’m not talking about Power Vinyasa or Body Sculpt or Yoga Till You Barf-type classes. Look for a Restorative or Yin class.

ACTIVE RECOVERY
The last think you are probably thinking of after exercise is more exercise. However, it might do wonders. Go out for an easy walk or ride the evening of any hard morning workout session. Keep it to 30 min or less at an effort so low that you don’t need to shower afterward.

MASSAGE
Go ahead. Tell your significant other that your coach is making you do it.

SELF-MASSAGE
Many fancy aids are available in the market place today – The Stick, foam rollers, Finnish Massage Hook, etc. Of course you could just self-massage with your own two hands or with a rolling pin or by rolling on a golf or tennis ball. Get creative.

SUDS
A good micro-brewed chocolate stout at Bryant Lake Bowl also goes a long way towards recovery too. I’m quite certain there are no scientific studies on this but let’s be honest – none of you actually read this far down anyway.

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