The importance of recovery
The BCBR is fast approaching. It's raining cats and dogs here, and I have just come off night shift and a couple of days taking it really easy after a solid 20-hr week, featuring some intensity; first in a while. Finally it feels like backing up is going well, and a few solid 3-4hr days with a substantial amount of climbing have been achieved without bulk-grovelling. Without having the top end speediness I would like (but don't really want to work too hard on right now!) I am feeling pretty confident in my ability to complete BCBR! Cool!
Last week featured some solid backing up:
Sunday: 2hr15 Trail ride. 3x25min Time-Trials at Subthreshold, 5min rec between. 43km and 700m.
Monday: 3hr30 endurance ride. Felt slow. Multiple long seated climbs. 60km 1600m.
Tuesday: 1hr coffee shop roll (the best!). 25km. 30min slow dog run (ie: running slowly, plus the dog isn't very clever).
Wednesday: 4hr30 road hills. Social 2hrs followed by 2x30min tempo/SST. 115km 2200m.
Thursday: 3hr30 singletrack and hills. Beginning with a few 10-15min climbs at tempo, followed by local singletrack loops. Backing up and singletrack riding when fatigued! 60km 1700m.
Friday: 2hr. Social Bunchie. 50km 650m.
Saturday: 2hr30. Local Criterium and home. 80-90km, dead flat but good intensity and feeling strong at end of a solid week means it's all going in the right direction! First time I have felt the crit was relatively 'easy' speaks volumes in terms of gaining strength and fitness.
Sunday: 2hr30. Ride to MTB race and race (race time 1hr10: mud-fest!). Felt tired but able to push (even though legs slow) and good skills in the wet despite fatigue!
So...many good things about this week! Multiple core-stability sessions (~2hrs) but no heavy gym through the week.
A crucial part of any stage race is recovery, something that doesn't come naturally to me in the rumble and hubbub of everyday life. In order to get through my 20hr week, I had to prioritise recovery after sessions, and now am taking stock of how i'm feeling after finishing that week with a very wet, very wild 45km day on the MTB which included a 20km race. The signs and symptoms of a sinus infection are here: I am super congested, snotting out gross stuff and have a headache, but two days off the bike (admittedly, working) and listening to the body has helped a lot and hopefully i'll get out of it with minimal harm!
This week my plan is emphasising recovery before the next shabammmmm and bringing some more top end into the mix:
Wednesday: Rollers (raining) 1hr, easy. Do some bendy stuff.
Thurs: Endurance ride Noosa 3hrs. Gym potentially: 1hr.
Friday: Ride Noosa 2-3hrs.
Saturday: Singletrack ride and efforts ~2hrs
Sunday: Commute to work (1hr) + Gym (1hr)
As you can see the volume is pretty tiny compared to what I have been doing, and that's fine because I am fitting a bit more work in around training this week. I am also working at Noosa (hence the rides will not likely be a high quality)
Some recovery techniques I used throughout last week's hard week, and through this easier week include:
• Eating well and hydrating well throughout the session. As I have upped the elevation and intensity of my sessions I have added extra carbohydrate into the mix and it has helped a lot. The best way to start backing up for the next day is to not finish your ride completely fucked...
• Getting stuck into a quick, easy recovery meal or drink straight after. If at home this may be a late lunch or second breakfast, which features enough carbohydrates and protein to replenish muscle glycogen and aid muscle repair for the next day. If I am on the run a quick protein AND carbohydrate shake is easy enough, and they usually taste delicious. When looking to purchase a recovery drink, remember to look for one that has adequate carbohydrate AS WELL AS protein. Sometimes they are sold as 'muscle gainers', which can be offputting for the aspiring whippet, but you need both protein and carbs to recover!
More tips can be found at the Sports Dieticians Australia Page.
• Stretching/yoga/foam rolling/trigger point. Definitely one where I, and many others, fall over in the recovery spectrum. It's hard to want to get bendy at the end of a ride, or end of the day when it's chilly outside and the couch and wine is beckoning! But keeping your aches and pains and tight spots in check is crucial. Many overuse injuries can be avoided by merely spending few minutes working on problem areas. For me it's glutes and hamstrings, as well as continue to strengthen my shoulder post injury, but pay attention to what's sore after a hard ride and your body will tell you what needs work/maintenance!
• Keep off the booze. Backing up hard sessions, your body is working hard to recover, and inflammation is a part of the recovery cycle that is impacted greatly by alcohol. I am not saying don't drink, ever, but perhaps hit up some H2O or electrolyte instead of the red between hard sessions.
• Adjuncts: recovery tights, massage, cold-water immersion; these are all things that you can use between hard sessions to manage fatigue and increase the chances of you having a great day the next day. There is limited data on these things, due to the subjective nature of 'recovery' and difficulty in objectively assessing their efficacy. But it can't hurt, right? At worst a placebo effect is better than none at all!
• Chillin' like a villain. Yep, there's never a better time for some Netflix and chill (real, not implied meaning) than between hard sessions. As your fitness increases, your need for chill time will decrease as you become stronger and your body is capable of dealing with a greater load, but that being said a solid nap does wonders for recovery: stimulating some extra, natural GH can never go astray!