Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Recovery Techniques Straight from US National Championships

I'm fresh off an intense block of competition which featured 8 races in a little over two weeks, culminating with the US Elite Road and Time Trial Championships. Two days into the racing-excursion and I'd already logged about 16 hours of travel time in the team van, had done a National Road Calendar criterium in Boise, got heat exhaustion and spent most of the night throwing up, and was en route to another race near Portland, Oregon. Two days later was the start of the Cascade Classic with a bunch of international superstars ready to throw down. It wasn't off to the most opportune start and my recovery became even more important than it typically would be.

Fast forward to Nationals in Bend, Oregon. Wednesday featured a 100+ mile circuit race in intensely hot conditions (the route was actually shortened from 120 miles due to the extreme weather) followed by a tough, hilly 35km Time Trial the next day.

Just completing the blisteringly fast road race was an accomplishment as I was one of only 50-or-so finishers out of the 135-man field (I was 34th). We raced the 100 miles in under 4 hours, with the main damage being done on the circuit's two steep hill sections. After scrapping to survive for several laps and yo-yoing a couple of times, I fell off the pace for good with an 8-man group on the 5th of 6 laps.

In the time trial, I did the best I could on another hot day and hoped my legs would come around to blaze through the course. My performance was a little off, but my recovery techniques and attention to pacing maximized my chances. I finished 30th out of 72 competitors.

So what were my secrets to prepare for these big races on my calendar and recover in between? It shouldn't surprise you that they all come straight from Cyclo-CLUB!

Keys to the Recovery Game:

  • Prepare. Prehydration is especially important in the heat, start drinking extra water at least 24 hours before and make sure you're taking on electrolytes as well. More about hydration here. I also had an ice-filled sock draped across my neck, cold water bottles at the ready, and ice cubes in my jersey to keep my core temps as low as possible while I warmed up.

  • My morning-of warm up: I wake up with my Morning Rituals (Parts I & II) followed by Cyclo-BREATH. I add in Warm in 5' just before I start the on-the-bike warm up (if necessary) and I'm ready to roll! Great for keeping myself calm and focused.

  • If you have 2 back-to-back events, your nutrition during the first event becomes even more important. Carry an extra bottle in your jersey, even if there's a feed zone. Stay on top of your calorie and hydration needs early on and don't let yourself get behind - it will impact both the current and the proceeding day's ride.

  • Recover right away. Finish event one, cool down briefly, start drinking and eating as soon as you can. Recovery drinks are a good, efficient, easy to consume option. Don't hang out and chit-chat for too long. Get out of the heat, cleaned up, and into air conditioning if possible.

  • Light Stretching. COOL In 5', LOOSE In 5', and RELEASE In 5' are all excellent programs to accelerate your recovery

  • Cool. Warm. Compress. A cold water or even an ice bath is awesome for minimizing muscle soreness and beginning the repair process. Follow with warm water to get your circulation going and flush lactic acid and toxins, followed by compression tights to continue the flushing and recovery process.

  • Do everything you can to minimize stress, promote recovery, and take care of yourself!

What are some of your recovery secrets? We'd love to hear them...

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