Today we will present some science, (thanks in part to US Military exercise physiologists), some experience and some gut feelings to know that it just works.
Training is habitual, maybe two times per day you focus on fitness and forget about the greater part of training; that of recovery. Recovery is equally as important as the training itself – the time body needs to repair and regenerate new tissue. It is also important that you recognize the signs of overtraining, and that you are not giving your body the necessary “time-out” needed for rest.
As endurance athletes, your goal is to progressively train at higher levels, then return to more normal levels after you stress the body and the mind…. the body and the mind go hand-in-hand. Rest and recovery time is indeed necessary, not only to restore physiological, but your mental/psychological well-being.
Let’s look at the stresses that your body is under — physical and mental, underlining the need for adequate active recovery.
Just as the physical stress of training takes it’s toll on your body, day-to-day psychological stress compounds this toll —Throw in some kids, school, work, finances, relationships…
Look at your overall health – do you have any type of bacterial infection, or most commonly, a respiratory tract infection?… This is a good indicator that someone is over-training.
Do you have any soft tissue injuries? You can work through it but eventually this turns into a major soft tissue injury when you don’t take enough time for recovery.
All of this adds to the overall stress level on your body, and to the importance of quality recovery time.
DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness…
You go out on a great 12 to 15 mile run, feeling good about your performance. You go out the following day and put in another good run.… But then day 4 or 5 comes around and you can barely get out of bed – you feel your legs or upper body and it’s tender and it hurts!
This is a good indication that you’re not giving your body adequate recovery time or quality recovery time.
Remember several months ago we talked about sleep?
( To Sleep, Perchance to Dream…)… The timing, amount, and intensity, and duration which equals the quality of sleep..
Sleep pattern disturbances – you don’t sleep throughout the night, you’re thirsty at night, you have a loss of appetite. These are all indications that you need to throttle back the intensity of your workouts and give your body more time and resources to repair and rebuild. An easy “Litmus Test” for determining adequate recovery is to monitor your resting heart rate…
Put on a chest strap –
Not a wrist for brachial sensor but a chest strap such as a Garmin, Wahoo or Pulsar chest strap with a monitor and sleep with it.
Take your baseline for about 4 to 5 days from a supine, or lying down position.
Note your resting heart rate before rising from bed in the morning and record them, note the average values over the period… Now we have a baseline to work with.
Go out and train for 4 to 5 days and check your resting heart rate again upon rising.
– if you’re staying near your baseline good, but if you’re resting heart rate is 10 to 15 beats per minute higher than your previous resting baseline, it is a good indication that you are in the state of over training.
If you have excess fatigue even on an easy day, you were probably in the state of over training. If you have poor work out performance, or dreading a workout you’re probably in overtraining mode.
Try to titrate your training, either through intensity or frequency of training, or type or modality of training. The one you want to change is the intensity of your training.
Active recovery and rest during the race
Quick rest time on the trail can be beneficial for the body in as little as 15 minutes. Take a nature break, eat and drink something, remove your shoes and socks and let your feet breathe; lie down and get your legs up, up to a 90° angle.
Let the blood and excess lactate and waste by-products of metabolism back into circulation in the the body to be excreted. Keep your legs up for 15 minutes to get better venous return back to your heart – this helps reduce edema in your lower legs and remove lactate. This little break for your legs and feet can really make a difference between aid stations. (Compression sleeves or socks can also make a big difference over the long haul. Though they might feel hot, graduated compression sleeves are very helpful for returning metabolic waste products and excess fluids back into circulation.)
Recovery Points to Remember
- Adequate rest – if up by 0600, asleep by 2200 (10 pm) No TV, iPhone, etc. after 2100
- Nutrition and nutrient timing – adequate protein for building blocks, to replenish muscle tissue lost from extreme exertion. 100 grams of protein per day minimum. Fats are equally important. They are needed to replenish depleted stores in your liver. Now is a good time to take your fat soluble vitamins too!
- Post-Race Active Recovery Exercise – No running…walk, hike, swim, etc. allowing time to put feet/legs up every now and then for venous return. Contrast Water Temperature Therapy — Alternating hot (104°)/cold (50°) water immersion every 5 minutes for 5-15 minutes each is an excellent recovery method also ——————–>Do this 7 to 8 times.
- Stretch, do yoga, foam roller, all help to maintain adequate muscle perfusion after prolonged exercise. Hop on an elliptical, a bicycle, any low impact, low intensity means of working your muscles.
- Adequate hydration doesn’t end with the race – continue to hydrate with water and low-sugar electrolyte drinks (no more than 4g/liter of sugar) Urinating nearly clear every two hours is a good indicator of adequate hydration.
- And yes, have several well-deserved beers just to make sure that you are properly hydrated, and nourished with carbs and endorphins to celebrate your success on the the trail with friends!
Let’s stop here for now. I think you have plenty of info to digest for this month. Wishing you healthy, happy, fun and victorious races for July!
Thanks for listening…