This article is all about recovery after hard interval workout. During late summer and fall, interval sessions get longer and more frequent, making quick recoveries extremely important. Last weekend we did max VO2 intervals on Saturday (really hard!) then sprints and distance on Sunday. My recovery was not adequate and on Tuesday during a continuous interval pulling a tire at Mooney's Bay my performance was weak. I do know what to do to recover well though, and I will have to get back into it. I had a good system this summer for recovery and I will share this with you, and hopefully get back into it myself.
1. Right after the intervals do at least 25 minutes of very easy exercise to process some blood lactate and ease your heart rate down.
2. Immerse your legs in cold water. Studies have shown that immersion, rather than icing is the best way to help repair torn tissues and reduce swelling getting your body back in shape faster.
3. One cold Beer. This may or may not help with recovery but can be nice. Apparently a Spanish researcher proved that one beer helps rehydrate better than water. I will admit however that my willingness to argue against this Spanish science is limited. Just remember that during hard exercise you lose considerable amounts of sugars (carbs) and salts (electrolytes), and that the faster you can replace these the faster you will recover. Compared to recovery drinks and many foods, beer is a poor source of carbohydrates and electrolytes. Water is definitely not optimal for recovery if beer can be slightly better, which means that you should always follow up hard workouts with some kind of sport recovery drink or food (Sheila has some good ideas here).
4. Sleep a lot. This was definitely what was missing last weekend and I payed for it! Get your sleep, everyone knows this but its easy to forget. If you are training a lot you need to sleep more.
5. Stretch during your free time. Stretching is best done on days where you don't train hard. The theory is that stretching can prevent injury but isn't very good for your muscles when they are full of micro-tears after a hard workout.
Anyway hope this is helpful. I will leave you with a photo or "self-exposure" as my father would call it up in the hills behind Ladysmith. See if you can count the number of recovery methods I am doing. Thanks for reading!