It's fall. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and the intervals are plenty. During fall training our intervals and intensity pieces become longer, and more frequent. Leaving you little time between sessions to recover for the next workout. I may not have the highest qualifications on our team to be giving out advice such as recovery methods and the benefits of them, but I feel the need to shed the light on some quick recovery methods to help everyone out.
I think the best place to start about talking about recovery, is as at the beginning of the workout. Ensuring you are properly nourished and warmed up prior to the workout is key in feeling better the next day. The length of your warm-up varies based upon not only what type of intensity or race length you are completing, but along with each individuals preference. For example, todays workout consisted of four minute zone 4 ski striding uphill intervals, six times with four minute rest between each interval. So our warm-up included light jogging, active mobility stretching, zone 2, and zone 3 pieces along with a handful of quick sprints. Having your body prepared and some lactates already being flushed prior to exercise helps reduce the risk of injury and improves sports performance.
So the workout is done, now what? The next stages are very important. Commit to a good cool-down that involves active recovery. A slow jog or ski walk can be ideal to flush out the remaining lactate that may have accumulated throughout your workout.
Karl, Mike Abbot, Matt, Peter, Megan, and Kyla smiling during their cool down along Skyline trail.
Although you are still on the trail and doing a cool-down it is always good to ensure you have a sport drink such as E-Load with you and are consuming it before, during and AFTER exercise. Stopping periodically for drinks is always a great idea during your warm down.
After your warm down run, it's always good to do some stretching and flexibility. There are many debates about the pros and cons of stretching, but in my experience a little bit goes a long way. Some lower body stretching is ideal in keeping the legs fresh for the next workout.
My next step in recovery is re-fuelling. This starts from when I get to the car to when I get home. I usually consume fresh fruit, nuts, a Clif Bar, chocolate milk, or E-Mend while driving, followed by a hefty meal when I get home. My favourite post workout breakfast is the breakfast sandwich. Two eggs, cheese, spinach, tomato, and ham or bacon (if it's one of "those" morning when you need just a little more.) A healthy balance between carbs and protein is what I aim for.
A post workout breakfast sandwich worth putting on the internet.
If it's a weekend or you have time for a nap in the afternoon, sleep is one of the best ways to keep up with your recovery. The majority of muscle repair occurs during sleep, so an afternoon nap is ideal!
Finally, to deal with any excess muscle aches and pains that may be lingering around from your workout grab a book, or your computer (to catch up on the latest XC Ottawa articles) and lay on your back with your feet against a wall. Alternatively you can try contrast therapy. A method of aiding your muscles by alternating between a warm and cold bath to speed recovery and repair muscle tissue.
I cannot vouch that this is the scientifically correct method of recovery, but it is however my method and it has yet to fail me! Try out one, or all the activities that can aid in the recovery and hopefully you can have fresh legs in no time!