The year is flashing by already and we are in the final stages of prep for Tour of Good Hope and The Cape Epic. With this in mind we thought it beneficial to highlight some NB recovery strategies that are crucial to success in multi-day events.
No matter how fit you are coming into an event, if you don’t focus energy on your recovery between stages, a successful finish will be in jeopardy!
They are simple strategies and most know them, but often due to poor planning, the strategies are marginalised and sometimes even overlooked. If you are preparing for one of the above mentioned races or ones later in the year, please refresh the memory and prioritise them in your daily planning (article courtesy of Carmichael Training Systems – CTS):
How to Optimize Recovery for Multi-Day Events
1. Focus on Fluid Intake throughout the Afternoon/Evening
- In multi-day endurance events it becomes impossible to replace all your fluids during each stage, leaving you at least somewhat dehydrated at the end of each ride. Once off the bike, rehydration should be your first priority because it can take many hours for your body to absorb fluids and bring levels in muscles, blood plasma, and intracellular fluid back to normal.
- It’s helpful to weigh yourself before and after a workout or event so you can estimate how much fluid you lost and how well you stayed hydrated during the ride. Following a stage you want to consume 150% of the fluid weight you lost within the first 4-6 hours afterward.
- In other words, if you lost 1l you want to consume 1.5l in those 4-6 hours. These fluids should include both plain water and drinks containing electrolytes, and should ideally not include alcohol. If you decide to drink alcohol, since the event is likely a vacation as well as a cycling event, do yourself a favour and limit consumption to one drink.
2. Replenish Energy Levels with Quality Nutrition
- In recent years, sports nutritionists and registered dietitians have moved away from recommending post-workout recovery drinks after every workout or ride. The primary goal of a post-workout recovery drink is to accelerate the replenishment of muscle glycogen so you can start your next ride with full glycogen stores. However, glycogen stores will be 100% replenished within about 24 hours regardless of whether you consume a recovery drink in the first 30 minutes post-exercise.
- This means that if you are training 4 days a week and there’s a rest day between hard workouts, you probably don’t need a recovery drink and can achieve full replenishment through your normal diet.
- Recovery drinks become far more important during multi-day endurance events because glycogen stores are likely depleted every day, and you will be on the bike again in less than 24 hours.
- Recovery begins on the bike, meaning we encourage riders to continue eating and drinking during the final 90 minutes on the bike. Some people mistakenly stop eating and drinking as the finish approaches. They can “smell the barn”, so to speak, and figure they don’t need more food or fluids to reach the end of the day. That may be true, but the food and fluids consumed in the final hour are important for recovery and setting up a successful tomorrow.
- A big thing to remember during multi-day events is that your long day in the saddle today doesn’t give license to gorge on crappy junk food between stages. Yes, you burned a lot of calories, but you want to give your body good fuel it can use for recovery and replenishment. This means focusing on whole food sources of carbohydrate, plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and limited desserts.
3. Get More Sleep
- Multi-day endurance events induce a higher level of muscle damage than a normal training week, and there are a lot of hormonal, neurological, and physical repairs that need to be done for the body to recover. Much of this happens while we are sleeping.
- Deep sleep is crucial to an athlete’s recovery because this is when human growth hormone is released, which stimulates muscle growth and repair. For optimal recovery, most athletes need between seven and ten hours of sleep a night.
- It’s also imperative that you get quality sleep as disruption to deep sleep can hinder the release of human growth hormone and subsequently hinder your recovery. To help avoid interruptions to your sleep, try to sleep in a cooler environment, limit your exposure to light (especially backlit screens) before going to sleep, eliminate as much light as possible during sleep, and avoid consuming alcohol before going to sleep.
4. Utilize Compression and Proactive Cooling
- In an earlier article, we dispelled the myth about elevating your legs to help drain lactate and prevent blood from pooling in your legs, however, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any benefits at all. Elevating your legs, using compression garments, and pneumatic compression may help with reducing swelling from extracellular fluid and lymph.
- This may be especially true during multi-day events because they tend to bring on more swelling in the first place. Research on compression for recovery doesn’t provide complete agreement on whether it is helpful or not. You can find studies on both sides, including one from Born, et al. that looked at the effect of compression garments on recovery and showed a reduction in muscle swelling and perceived muscle pain, and observed a positive effect on recovery of maximal strength and power. One thing is certain, however: pneumatic compression boots make you sit still and rest, which is good for recovery and something many athletes simply don’t do or won’t do for long enough.
- Some athletes have asked about the efficacy of ice-baths between stages of a multi-day cycling event. The science is even more divided about ice baths than it is about compression.
- Our current stance on the issue is that immersion in cool water may be beneficial for recovery, especially in terms of bringing core temperature down following a long, hot day in the saddle. However, because cycling is not a weight-bearing sport there is far less acute muscle damage and consequent inflammation compared to distance running or ultrarunning. Some of the studies around ice baths have shown it can inhibit recovery by blunting the physiological response to hard exercise (inflammation), which may be necessary for stimulating optimal recovery and adaptation.
- While the science around ice baths is equivocal, there is little doubt elevated core and skin temperatures hinder recovery and diminish sleep quality. Sitting a cool bath, relaxing in a cool hotel pool, or finishing your shower with a cooling rinse is probably more useful to a cyclist during a multi-day event than a full-on ice bath.
- (Reference CTS)
MTB Tour of Mauritius - Link to Computravel offering:
Talking of multiday events, here is one you may be interested in:
The Beachcomber MTB Mauritius Tour 16 – 20 May 2018