Our last post in this series was all about training for the Bath Half, but here we’re going to talk about recovery. While training is the stimulus that triggers physiological change, it is during recovery that the changes actually take place, so you’d better make sure you’re not neglecting this important part of your preparation.
Firstly, it’s important to understand what happens to our muscles while we’re training, so we understand what we’re trying to achieve with our recovery:
- Muscles get damaged – hard physical work and the repetitive impact actually cause structural damage to the working muscle while you train. Microscopic tears and inflammation create that muscle soreness that you may be familiar with around 48h after training?
- Energy stores become depleted – your glycogen (stored carbohydrate) and fat stores get used-up throughout your training to provide the energy for your working muscles.
Get moving! Movement is the single most important recovery strategy to repair your muscles, preventing stiffening-up, increasing blood flow which ensures a supply of nutrients to repair the damages cells, and removing any waste products. Simply going for a walk or playing with the kids in the park, followed by stretching or yoga is the perfect way to spend a day off training and to speed up your recovery. Massage, foam rolling and stretching all also help stop your muscle from stiffening up, after all the hard work and micro-damage they’ve had to endure.
REPLENISHING ENERGY STORES
The benefits of most-workout carbohydrate are widely touted but less attention is given to one important aspect of recovery: carbohydrate timing. The bottom line is this: the faster the better as this will kick start the body into an anabolic (rebuilding). Opt for a recovery shake that has a ratio of 4:1 of carbs:protein straight after your workout. In normal people speak, one scoop of protein and one scoop of a carb source (glucose and wazy maize starch are my go-to sources).
The meal that then follows the training, after the shake, just like your other meals, should contain all three macronutrients; protein (meat, fish and eggs), carbs (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato and healthy fats (butter, coconut oil, avocado, olive oil).
3 BONUS RECOVERY TIPS
Keep drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. You’ll probably find you drink more on workout days to replace the fluid you’ve lost as sweat. Not sure how much to drink or how to get in enough? Check out one of my earlier posts on hydration to find out.
· Optimal sleep is also essential to your recovery. Your body is in its most restorative state during sleep, and so deep long sleep is not just for teenagers but for runners too!
· Nutritional supplements can aid recovery too, Magnesium is depleted during exercise so needs to be replaced quickly to ensure optimal recover, but it also helps improve your sleep too. Omega 3’s Oils would provide a good daily daily source of essential fatty accids (EFAs) which are essential for nerve function and help reduce inflammation.
· Epsom salts (to dissolve in a bath and soak your muscles) – great for soothing aching muscles. Check out this article by Rob from a few months back on salt baths
Malachi Dingis is a former sprinter, Sports Science graduate and family man with two little girls. He joined the Health coaching team in September 2016 and by applying the most important health principles in simple, mindful ways, he has been helping people achieve dramatic health and fitness transformations for over 5 years. More..