‘R’ is for Rest and Recovery
Serious training requires serious recovery
Many people that love to train their bodies are in danger of shortening their active lives by failing to take their recovery seriously.
Ever been guilty of over-training for a big event and then coming down with a bad cold that lays you low for a week? Read on and get ready to recover.
Mental high – physical low
A session in the gym, a long run on a cold day or a big Sunday bike ride all deliver an endorphin rush to the brain that makes us feel great. But while the brain is on a high, the body is about to enter a new low.
Instead of planning our next run, ride or swim, it’s vital we prioritise our recovery that will enable the next training session to be even better. Vitally, good recovery can help us stay fitter for longer.
Elite athletes know the importance of good recovery. The best ones (or lucky ones, perhaps) are paid not only to train and perform, they are also paid to rest.
Sitting around doing nothing
In his 2012 book ‘Running with the Kenyans’, writer Adharanand Finn spent time living in a training camp in the high altitude town of Iten. This is the place that not only the Kenyans use to train but also many British athletes too, Mo Farah among them.
Finn wasn’t surprised to see the Kenyans running twice a day and getting a regular massage. This is what he expected. What did surprise him was the time that these athletes simply sat around on white patio chairs staring into space. It was their way of resting and letting the body recharge after the exertions of a tough session.
As amateur athletes and weekend warriors, we can learn from this and use it to maintain and improve our year-round wellbeing.
Even though the best athletes take their recovery seriously, many of us slow plodders and once-a-week participants are guilty of over-looking this component of our training. This fact was borne out at the recent Chilly 10k race in Wiltshire, an event where the proto-col team set up a sampling station to refresh the weary finishers.
Before the start gun, several athletes asked if we sold gels to boost their energy during the race. We don’t. After the race, some of these same athletes were reluctant to try our protein powder in their water bottles, stating that they had never used such products and that they believed they weren’t serious enough to use them.
How many of us prioritise the physical training and the big event itself, only to switch off once the race is over? Olympians know that recovery is as important as the last session; recovery with rest, with good food and hydration, with stretching and massage, maybe even an ice bath. If they do it and win, why not us too?
Top recovery tips that we can all build into our training
You’ll never perform at your best if you’re tired, injured or ill. Try these recovery tips to shorten recovery time, prevent injury and stay well.
- Get protein in fast – Consume some protein rich foods within 15-30 minutes of exercise – a glass of milk, a sandwich, a protein shake, peanut butter on toast.
- Stretch – Use slow, gentle stretching while your muscles are still warm to aid flexibility and mobility – don’t stretch cold muscles.
- Massage – Treat yourself to a sports massage regularly, use a foam roller daily and even massage sore muscles yourself.
- Ice baths – ‘Indulge’ your muscles in an ice bath after long, tough sessions to help reduce muscle inflammation and promote healing of micro tears. Mo Farah does.
- Rest – Plan in some time to do nothing and put your feet up for a while, literally.
Find out more about proto-col’s range of nutrition to support recovery here.