When spring comes around every year, the temptation for many cyclists is to jump into race training with all the intensity, determination, and vigor they can muster. While these are positive mentalities to have, its important that competitive bicyclists not let their excitement for spring training cause them to overwork themselves. One of the key stages of training where this takes places is cycling recovery.
While it may not always seem like it, a recovery ride is just as important to a cyclist’s race training as a workout. Together, recovery and workouts are the ‘yin and yang’ that balances a riders preparation and optimizes performance. Three key areas of recovery to pay attention to include post-workout recovery, post-race recovery, and balanced nutrition.
One of the easiest ways to undermine training is to ride too hard during a recovery ride. The article, “7 Ways to Nail Your Recovery Rides” from Bicycling Magazine explains this well –
When you train hard you do damage—that’s part of the plan. Your workout breaks down your muscle, empties out your fuel stores, and generally taxes your metabolism above and beyond its status quo. When you recover, your body repairs the damage so you can come back stronger and ready for more. If you skip the recovery part, you’re cheating yourself out of the maximum return on your hard work.
Even though it seems counter intuitive, recovery rides should feel easy! Here are some ways to ensure that you are getting a proper recovery:
- Ride by yourself. You won’t be tempted to keep up with anyone else.
- Pull out the beater bike. If you have an older bike, you can spin easy and not be tempted to go faster.
- Get casual. Wear cloths that will make you feel like you’re just out for a cycling stroll
- Use a bike computer. Let your gadgets tell you if you are going too fast
Races are often the hardest workout cyclists will do. They redline for longer periods of time than their training workouts and expend more energy. As a result, the mind sends signals to the body that aren’t always what the body needs – such as exclusively eating junk food and sitting on the sofa for the rest of the day. The article, “Maximize Your Post Race Recovery“ from Training Peaks offers some ways that you can recover more quickly from a race:
- Right after the race, eat simple carbohydrates. Go for that orange slice, banana, and slice of pizza offered at the race.
- Supplement your post-race pizza and beer with other nutritional and caloric dense foods. Getting some protein will help your muscles recover (high protein intake is not good post-race, however) and caloric-dense foods restore glycogen levels in your liver and muscles.
- Stay away from really fatty foods and foods that are high in protein.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
- Get your feet up after the race. Yes, we’re giving you permission to chill and get off of your feet. This is best if done right after you are off the bike.
- Take a walk later that day. Getting up on your feet and moving around a while after the race helps speed the recovery process.
There are lots of resources online for you to learn about recovery best-practices and get the fuel and equipment you need for adequate recovery. bikeparts.com has lots of different types of nutritional supplements all in one place as well as bikes, bike parts, cycling accessories, and cycling apparel that can help you with your recovery training. And if you just want to talk to an expert, stop into Peak Cycles in Golden, CO to talk to one of our competitive cyclists. Have fun with your Spring Training!