Recovery, Recovery, Recovery Continued...
In the previous post, I discussed a variety of external methods one can utilize to boost recovery after an intense training session or race. Proper nutrition and supplements in conjunction with these aids can be especially helpful in refueling carbohydrate stores, reducing inflammation, and speeding up muscle recovery. Consumption of a recovery snack is important if your workout lasts 90 minutes or longer. Strive to get the recovery snack or meal within 30 minutes to 2 hours after the workout. Both the quality and timing of this snack is crucial in setting you up properly for the next workout. Aim for .5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight, i.e. 100 lbs = 50 grams of CHO and maybe add some protein and/or sodium. After consuming the snack, continue to eat and restore carbohydrates throughout the day.
So, what to eat and drink? A variety of foods can be consumed to combat inflammation and increase muscle recovery. The antioxidants found in cherry and pomegranate juice have been shown in studies to improve muscle recovery. In 2010, Kristal et al. presented findings to the American Society of Nephrology that detailed the benefits of drinking pomegranate juice in a group of dialysis patients. They found that patients who drank pomegranate juice showed reduced inflammation, less oxidative stress caused by free radicals, and fewer incidents of infections. The results continue to support the wide belief that pomegranates contain potent antioxidant properties.
Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to reduce inflammation. These can be found in a variety of seeds, nuts, and fish. Fish oil capsules are a great Omega-3 supplement. Therefore, while it may be tempting to treat yourself to a beer and burger after a hard workout, try choosing foods that will be conducive to recovery and which will enable you to build upon fitness gains. The exception is of course, when you finish that big race, then I say go for it – you deserve it!
Rehydrating and staying hydrated is also a must in recovery. Drink to thirst throughout the day; urine should be a light yellow color. Also, try to avoid ingesting pain relievers like Advil or Tylenol even if you feel stiff, in pain, and uncomfortable. They can be irritating and even harmful to your digestive system if taken habitually.
In addition to proper nutrition, getting adequate rest and sleep is another important – maybe the most important component in the recovery process. Recovery will suffer if you do not allow your body to rest and repair. Adults should aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night period. But if you’re an athlete in training you will need more! If you’re a runner you should add extra minutes to your sleep. Here is a simple formula: take the amount of miles you run and convert that to minutes. For example, if you run 30 miles per week that is 30 extra minutes to sleep. So, if you normally sleep 7 hours of sleep, add 30 more minutes and you should get about 7.5 hours of sleep. For triathletes, the formula is: hours of weekly training plus one decimal point = extra hours to sleep. For example: 15 hours of training per week = 1.5 hours more of sleep.
Enhancing Recovery - USA Triathlon Webinar given by Sage Roundtree, USAT Level II Coach on July 22, 2010
The American Society of Nephrology - http://www.asn-online.org/press/RW10/4a-Kristal%20Release.pdf