I always knew recovery was important, but it seems to have hit home this season like non other. Considering I have had only 1 day off since the first of January, with many days containing two workouts, recovery from one to the next has become vital. If I don’t recover fully, it will effect the next workout, with potentially cascading effects that could put me out for week, either from soreness, fatigue and/or illness.
Most of the things I’m doing are well-documented nothing terribly surprising:
- Eat some protein and carbs within 30 minutes of a workout, particularly on the weekends. I had stopped focusing on this one too much and figured I’d just have a burrito or something at some point. I’ve gone back to post-workout smoothies, and then the burrito. Yes, I eat a lot.
- I foam roll pretty much every evening (I lead a very exciting and glamorous life). Usually for about 20 minutes up to an hour. I also get massages regularly (benefit of having your coach be a massage therapist), and this has seriously helped me, especially with managing injuries around running. I’m fairly certain I would not be able to be do this at all without the massage and the obsessive foam rolling.
- I’ve cut back on the alcohol, sugar, and shit food in general, and am now taking some ungodly number of vitamins after having blood work done again (apparently I have off-the-charts low vitamin D and iron, thanks Portland!). I need the vitamins whether or not I’m training, but they have been essential in help keeping my energy level up.
- And finally: sleep. I sleep as much as I can, usually between 7.5 and 8 hours (again with the really exciting life of foam rolling and going to bed at 10:30pm). Sleep and hydration are so important, and the best part is that it’s free! Yes, it’s one more thing that eats away at your time, but there is no pill you can buy that can replace sleep.
But there is something else for me that’s been huge that’s not so specifically in the bucket of “recovery”, but more centered around enjoyment, fun and balance.
In the past, I would just beat myself up doing intervals and gradually get more and more exhausted as the season wore on. Fitness gains would slowly become overshadowed by fatigue, both physical and mental. It’s easy to get addicted to hard workouts, to feel like there is no point to a workout where you aren’t mopping yourself up off the ground. But I’m really learning something new this go round, that that is absolutely the wrong approach.
When I first saw “30 minutes easy ride” on my workout schedule, I almost laughed. Why? That’s basically my daily commute to work. Should I even put on bike clothes for this? Does my commute count? This isn’t a workout!
But I’ve learned (or I should say, re-learned) that those “easy” workouts build your base. Maybe I thought I was somehow beyond this, having been a cyclist for almost a decade, but I have discovered that this is assuredly not true. I used to base-build by just going out and riding 70 miles or so on the weekends. But it turns out those weekday workouts seriously add up, which is fabulous news because they most involve jamming out to music and enjoying an outdoor lunch break at work.
The biggest a-ha to all of this is that I look forward to my workouts. They aren’t just tasks to be marked complete so I can get this race thing over with. In the past, over-training led me to start dreading workouts, especially interval sessions, and it just sucked all the fun out of everything. Now I look forward to getting outside and taking a quick spin, or spending my entire Saturday in the saddle.