Wednesday, July 18, 2012

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #7 Rest and Recovery

I love this quote by Ryan Hall, who will be representing the United States in the 2012 Olympic Marathon.

“I actually think being a more balanced person makes a healthier, happier, and thus faster person. The question I try and ask myself when I consider whether or not to train more is what is my body craving and what is my body ready to absorb? Sometimes pushing harder is not the answer. It takes self control, confidence, and intuition to know when to train and when to rest, but when in question error on the side of being over rested.”

It is obvious changing our Blue Iron Swim Team practice from Tuesday and Thursday mornings to Monday and Wednesday mornings has taken a toll on some of my athletes.  After a long weekend of training, they are usually dragging themselves to the pool at Agnes Scott College on Monday mornings at 6am.  The athletes I coach don’t usually see a rest day until Tuesday, which is challenging after a long weekend of training and a tough swim on Monday.  Luckily this schedule change only takes place during June, July and August.  Come September, we’ll be back swimming on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and Monday will be a welcome rest day for my athletes!

It is no secret that rest and recovery is important to the success of triathletes.  Why? An athlete's body needs time to recover from the stress that is put on the muscles as athletes swim, bike, run and strength train.  When you skip rest and recovery, you increase the risk of injury.  It is also the time for your body to reap the benefits of your hard training.

I want to share with you the following recovery tips for training days longer than 2 hours.  These are guidelines I’ve adapted from the book “The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery” by Sage Rountree.  I had the pleasure of hearing Sage speak at a seminar as part of my USA Triathlon coaching certification requirement.

Snack, Rehydrate and Ice Within 30 Minutes
Snacks should consist of protein and carbohydrates. Pack food and drinks in a cooler and leave in your car for immediately after your long bike ride or run.  Continue to hydrate throughout the day and the next day. Remember, it can take 24 - 48 hours to rehydrate after a long workout.

"Spot" ice any areas that are giving you trouble. I like to keep a zippy bag of ice in the freezer. I just grab it, rub it on the affected area and put it back in the freezer for next time.

If you just had a really tough workout, you can soak your legs in a cold water bath for 10 - 15 minutes.  Once the blood starts moving, you legs will tingle and warm up.

Shower Within 60 Minutes
Everyone around you will appreciate this.  Seriously, it's a good idea to remove sweaty clothes as soon as possible due to the bacteria that is multiplying in damp clothing.

Compression Socks (if you choose) After 2 Hours
If you like compression socks, put them on 2 hours after your workout to aid in recovery. You can wear them for 2 - 4 hours.

Eat a Healthy Meal After 2.5 Hours

Yoga and/or Stretching After 3 Hours
If you are familiar with Yoga poses, put yourself through this light routine: Legs on the Wall, Supported Child's Pose, Supported Prone Twist, Supported Back Bend, Supported Side Bend, Supported Bridge, Supported Corpse Pose

If you are not familiar with these poses, perform your favorite stretches and hold for 30 - 60 seconds each.

Take a 40 Minute Nap After 3.5 Hours

Massage or Self-Massage After 5 Hours
If you are able to have a massage by a qualified therapist, go for it! Be sure to let the therapist know you had a hard ride or run today. You can also self-massage with a Foam Roller or The Stick.

Go For a Walk After 6 Hours

Take a Warm Bath Before Bed

The next day's workout should be light or a cross-training day.

I hope this helps! It may seem a like a lot, but in order to continue to train and avoid injury, your body needs to be treated this way so you will be ready for the next hard workout. You might not be able to fit everything in, so pick the things that work best for you and your schedule and stick with it!

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