Recovery, why it's not just about getting more sleep!
Rest and Recovery, January 26, 2023
In this article, we discuss proper recovery and how it's not only sleep that is vital to recovery.
Why do we need to recover?
One of the most important aspects of training for any endurance sport is allowing your body to recover properly. Without adequate recovery, your body will not be able to adapt to the stress of training, leading to stagnation in your performance or even injury. We are acutely aware of it here at the Triathlon Coaching Company.
During intense training, your muscles, bones, and connective tissue undergo microtrauma. These small tears in the muscle fibres and the accumulation of metabolic waste products trigger inflammation and release stress hormones such as cortisol. During recovery, the repair and rebuilding process allows your body to adapt and become stronger.
Without adequate recovery time, the accumulation of these microtraumas can lead to muscle strains, tendonitis, and even stress fractures. We see these things repeatedly from really driven athletes who want to be the best they can be. Ironically, training more can negatively affect your ability to perform, which is normally down to under-recovering. Your fitness is not built during the training session; rather, it is built when you give your body time to repair.
And don't just think that resistance training is the only area that needs a good recovery strategy; rest and recovery also play a crucial role in the body's energy systems. Endurance sports such as triathlons, marathons, and endurance cycling rely heavily on the body's aerobic energy system. This system requires the body to produce energy aerobically, which means with the help of oxygen. During intense exercise, the body's oxygen demand exceeds its supply, accumulating metabolic waste products. Recovery allows for the removal of these waste products and the replenishment of energy stores such as glycogen.
Is there more you can do to recover well?
In addition to physical recovery, rest and recovery are also crucial for mental balance. The constant stress of training and competing can lead to burnout and overtraining if not managed properly. Allowing your body and mind to recover through rest and active recovery activities, such as yoga, meditation, and massage, can help prevent mental fatigue and maintain a positive attitude towards training.
Of equal importance when it comes to great recovery strategies, what you eat plays a large part of your bodies recovery processes. Consuming enough calories and eating a balanced diet will aid in repairing and rebuilding, and replenishing energy stores. Additionally, staying hydrated is essential for recovery as it aids in the removal of waste products and helps transport nutrients to the cells. Again, this is something we see neglected frequently, especially by athletes who are looking to cut weight. In my opinion weight loss should be a by product of good training and a good nutrition plan.
We adopt a strategy of fuelling your workouts well to make sure you get the best out of each training session and ensuring you fuel your recovery well too. One of the biggest mistakes we see athletes make is cutting calories to go in to deficit (which is a logical way to reduce weight) however they normally neglect to take into account their activities throughout the day or consider what damage the training they have completed has done to the body. We will cover nutrition in more detail in some future writings.
In general a good nutrition strategy for recovery for athletes includes a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Carbohydrates help to replenish glycogen stores in the muscles, while protein helps to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. Healthy fats, such as those found in nuts and fatty fish, can also aid in recovery by reducing inflammation. Consuming various fruits and vegetables can also provide important vitamins and minerals for overall health and recovery.
It's important to remember that rest and recovery are essential components of training for endurance sports. Without adequate recovery, the body will not be able to adapt to the demands of training, leading to performance stagnation or even injury. Incorporating recovery strategies such as active recovery, proper nutrition, and getting enough sleep into your training plan is just as important as the training itself. By allowing your body the time it needs to recover, you will be able to perform at your best and reach your endurance sports goals.
Chris has a Masters in Sports, Exercise and Health Science Physiology and is a British Triathlon level 3 coach; Ironman certified coach, Level 3 Personal Trainer, Training Peaks Level 2 Certified Coach, British Triathlon coach educator, and coach mentor. With over 20 years of experience in teaching and coaching, he is passionate about developing all levels of athletes, especially athletes new to the sport, to allow them to meet their goals. Chris has raced over every distance from Sprint to Iron Distance.