What’s the best way to recover from hard training/racing?
Just before midnight last Saturday I finished a 103 kilometre ultra marathon in just under 16 hours, at the age of 59. It was a very hilly course in very hot and humid conditions. By Tuesday afternoon I felt fully recovered and ready to go again.
How did I recover so quickly and easily? I know 20 year olds who are still stiff and sore 72 hours after a hard gym session or a game of football. This is what I have learnt about how best to recover after these very demanding endurance events, both physically and mentally:
1. Drink lots of fluids throughout the event and post event. And not just water – a wide variety of non- fizzy drinks, hot and cold. Add some salt to your drinks to encourage proper absorption, and perhaps some electrolyte tablets also (HIgh 5 work best for me).
2. Eat really good nutrition with plenty of protein to repair all the damage done to the body. Green leafy veg, fruit, fish, meat ( if that’s what you want), nuts, eggs, seeds etc.
3. Try to spend as much time as possible engaged in gentle physical activity, moving around as much as possible. It’s painful at first but the more you move the quicker you recover. Do not think that you need rest and that it’s ok to spend hours sitting. If you’re still very fatigued then lie down instead.
4. Massage. Even if it’s not done by a professional or you do self- massage, it does help a lot.
5. Compression. I wear Compressport calf and quad compression to bed for a couple of nights after these events and it does help, although no-one is really sure why.
6. The thing that helps most of all though, I have found is gentle swimming. On Monday my muscles were still quite stiff and sore. 3 longish gentle swims later in the open air pool and by Tuesday afternoon, all discomfort had disappeared and I felt fine. I often follow hard training sessions with a gentle swim and find that I very rarely have any muscle soreness. This is my number 1 tip for recovery.
Other people use different methods. Ice baths are widely touted as the answer to muscle soreness, yet there is little evidence to support this.
What are your tips for recovery?
David Perry Personal Trainer.