Embracing Recovery Week

When a race is over, a recovery should begin. And yes, this goes for single workouts as well. RECOVERY IS KEY. Do you have a plan in place to treat your body with a little TLC? If not, change that today. Set yourself up for success so your muscles get what they need to recharge for your next big goal.

One week ago, I raced Ironman 70.3 Syracuse, which meant I essentially climbed hills on wheels and on foot for the 69.1 miles I was out of the water. Sure, I trained well to get there and I was prepared for the grueling six+ hour race, but no matter who we are or how strong we are, we all need to recognize what our bodies need. Remember to think of your physique as a machine - you rev the engine, you hit your max, but to keep a well-oiled machine, you need to cool down and fill up from time to time. So I did.

Now, don’t get me wrong - I did exercise during my recovery week - but everything was tweaked to get my car back on the track. Of the seven days (Monday-Sunday), I exercised about five, adjusted my sleep schedule to get in my max hours of zZz's, and filled up on protein and nutrients to get my bod back to its prime state. Instead of sticking to workouts in the morning, I chose to sleep in most times, and get the sweat sesh in after work. Switching up my routine had it’s ups and downs...

*Ups: Well, for one thing, sleeping in is fantastic! I can’t remember the last time I’ve said that, let alone done it. Most mornings, I hit the alarm at 8am, had a delightful breakfast and then actually had time to do my hair and makeup (girls, you feel me on this one?!) Secondly, my evening workouts were stronger than usual. I had so much energy and my speed was undeniable in both the swim and on the run. I can’t figure out if it was all the food I consumed, the hours of sleep I got, or the fact that my body was applauding me from finally getting up from my desk chair. Lastly, a stroll home from an evening workout proved to be peaceful and oh so fulfilling, as if it’s the bow on my gift, the cherry on my sundae…the perfect way to finalize my day. It was invigorating. Oh, and I saw all new faces in the park! (after a while you start to see the same folks! lol)

*Downs: Sure, a rest week has downs too. Mine involved mainly my hunger. I woke up starving, I came home starving…basically I was always starving. And I had a personal struggle with this because I was burning less calories but craving more than usual. My dainty little self didn’t want to believe that I actually still needed to make up for what I lost in that race or the weeks leading up to it. Also, as much as sleeping in was fun, I had a bigger problem falling asleep at night. Usually lights out before 10, these nights I was tossing and turning as late as midnight, unable to fight off the energy I still had keeping my heart rate at a high. Plus, a late workout means a later meal, and my body was just not ready to stomach it. Though small meals, they still filled me up more than usual. Mornings proved to be slower, probably because I lacked the post-workout adrenaline I usually get from my morning training sessions. And lastly, and most importantly, I was suffering from extreme FOMO (fear of missing out). You see, these group workouts I partake in…they kind of rock. You have awesome people waiting for you every morning, all to work hard and have some fun. I live for that most days. When you find reasoning, you tend to stick to it.

OK, so despite the ups and downs of my recovery week, here’s the bottom line: I listened to my body. I knew that I needed sleep more than anything else, because once you lose your grasp on that, everything goes south. If sleeping in meant missing a couple workouts, ruining my routine, or keeping me from my friends, well then I still made the wise choice. Because here I am on my next week - a tougher week - three weeks out from my next race - and I feel pretty great. 

I want to stress the importance of recovery for every type of race, every distance, every body. Whether you’ve got a 5k planned or a 50k, you better plan your post-race recovery strategy. 

*Remember to stretch immediately after a finish line. Get those muscles back to their pre-race state by loosening them up, BUT be careful. Keep it light and focus on loosening up. Don’t sit right away and you’ll want the blood to continue to flow through your muscles so a stiffness doesn’t occur. At home, if pain is tolerable, spend some time with your foam roller and/or runner’s stick and work through more troubled areas. 
*Remember to hydrate before, during, and certainly after a finish line. No matter the weather, you’ve lost a lot of fluids, so put them back in. If you feel lightheaded or a headache strikes, you’ve waited too long. Water is key, but electrolytes are sometimes extremely beneficial, depending on the type of activity you just engaged in.
*Remember to replenish your body after a finish line. You’ve lost salt, protein, and ample amounts of carbohydrates. Though you’ll want to go for the most unhealthy foods around, try and feed your body with the most nutritious post-workout snack available. Have that protein shake ready to go at home, and make sure it’s within 30-60 minutes of finishing your race or workout. Timing is imperative in order to rebuild and repair the muscle tissue that took a beating.
*Remember to sleep before and after finish lines. No, that doesn’t mean go home and go to bed, but do be cognizant of your body’s needs. If you’re feeling lethargic after a 4-mile run, don’t have any shame in taking a nap. Rest and replenishment allows your muscles plenty of time to properly heal, so you wake up good as new, and hopefully with a new PR.

Recover well and you’ll be back in biz in no time, and more importantly - better than ever.

Elevate & Alleviate,

Workouts this week:

Tuesday: RUN (7mi), BIKE (24mi)

Wednesday: BIKE (computrainer), SWIM (3200yds)

Thursday: SWIM (3300yds), BIKE (24mi)

Friday: BIKE (90mi)