What you do after training is just as important as what you do during.
Its easy to do your training, finish and go about your daily business like nothing happened and be just fine. But if you want to really get the most out of your workout and become a better (stronger/faster/fitter/leaner/energized) athlete, well then you don't just stop... you complete your workout and then you RECOVER.
- Do you finish a workout then spend an hour in the locker room instagraming your workout and chatting with other gym rats?
- Do you finish a long group ride then spend an hour getting your bike in your car and driving home?
- Do you end a run by collapsing just inside the door and resting for some long amount of time?
- Do you finish your ride, then grab a beer and cook burgers?
- Do you finish a run, shower, get ready then eat a salad?
- Do you leave the gym straight to your car, get stuck in traffic, then make it home forever after you were sweating it out?
Why it Matters...
Recovering from your workout is equally important as fueling during a workout, hitting your paces, and completing set mileage. During the workout, your muscles have taken a beating. They are tired, torn and worn out. They need to be cared for, replenished and revived. Depending on the workout, this can take 24-48 hours to happen. In order to get stronger, your muscles need to rebuild and this starts with post workout recovery.
- Your body needs to replenish water stores. Drink up. If possible, weigh yourself before and after the workout to figure out your sweat rate.
- 30 minutes is the 'optimal' window to eat food post workout when your body can use the fuel most efficiently. Does that mean if you eat 31 minutes after pressing stop on your garmin if doesn't count? No... but if you want to maximize your gains, eat first and ask questions later.
- 3:1 is my suggested ideal ratio of carbs:protein post workout. This allows you to replenish glycogen while providing protein to rebuild muscles.
- Do not expect food to magically show up post training.
- Don't underestimate the time you'll waste texting, uploading, chatting, changing, etc post workout!
- Instead of bringing along just what you need for the run/ride...stash extra in your pockets for when you finish.
- Driving to the event? Bring along a cooler or shelf stable items for a packed post meal.
- Group event? Make the start/finish at a healthy cafe so that everyone can enjoy a nourishing recovery!
- Be Responsible.
- Don't over do it. Remember, you can't out train bad eating habits.
- Eat what is appropriate for the workout you just accomplished.
- Did you just run 4 miles? Does that mean eat a full pizza?
- Don't Sell Yourself Short.
- Under consuming is just as bad as over consuming; both have harmful consequences to your continued health and training.
- Spend 6 hours out on the bike? Don't just eat half a granola bar afterwards and expect to get better.
- Try to track your burn as accurately as possible.
- Consider the time you've spent training, did it run through your normal breakfast/lunch/dinner....?
- Spend some time tuning out.
- You just accomplished something great, reflect on it/visualize.
- Meditate. Zone out.
- Muscle Care.
- Eating isn't the only important part of recovery.
- Stretching post workout will allow for better flexibility and blood flow.
- Schedule a massage. If possible, aim to receive massage post workouts, at least hard workouts.
- Ice baths. I swear by these. Nothing makes the muscles refresh and bounce back quicker than sitting in ice & water.
- Yeah, its important.
- Everyone knows that pro athletes nap often. Well they don't just do it because they can, but they know they need to.
- Schedule your hard workouts to accommodate a quick post workout power nap.
My Personal Habits.
Want to know how I recover? Here's a recipe I use...