Recovery: Something Every Cyclist Should Know
Your recovery between workouts is just as important as the workouts you do on the bike. Recover faster and you will improve faster, period!
I find many cyclists get stuck into the "body building" phase of eating protein to recover right after exerice. Whereas protein is exactly what your body doesn't need immediately after a hard day on the bike.
Your body is in a catabolic state post exercise. Catabolic, meaning breaking down. Anything you give to it, it will break down and attempt to make for energy. Why? Because it needs energy! Until it gets that energy, it will continue to search for it. Your body will even break down it's own musclular tissue to get it if you don't give it what it needs. It's starving for energy, so give it what it needs.
Here's the key: carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are your body's easiest and most direct source of energy, NOT protein. Give it protein and it will use that protein for energy rather than what you should be using that protein for, which is rebuilding your body's damaged cells, including your muscles.
So what's the best thing to do:
Give your body what it is searching for: fast absorbing carbohydrates!
So when do you take these in:
Within the first 20 minutes after hard workouts and races. This time frame is commonly reffered to as the "window of opportunity" to replace these stores faster then any other time in the day. In fact, research says that if you take the proper measures your body will replenish these stores about four times faster than any other time in the day. Quite impressive!
How much do you need:
The average 150 lb athlete should pop in 90+ grams of fast absorbing carbs, meaning carbs high in glucose/fructose, right after exercise. Great examples are fruits, chocolate milk, and your favorite fruit smoothie. This sounds like a lot, but it will help get your body recovered very fast and ready for tomorrow's workout. So look at the nutritional label on the back of whatever you may be eating and make sure you get 90+ grams of carbohydrates within the first 20 minutes after hard workouts.
What about the protein? It's still important, right? When do you take that in?
Take your protein in about 1-2 hours after exercise when your body is recovered. At this point your body should be in an anabolic, or rebuilding, phase. This is when it NEEDS the protein. So give it what it needs. Lean protein such as salmon, chicken, or eggs are great examples of what will help rebuild your muscle and damaged cells.
So next time your friend says get stronger by eating protein right after a ride, you can correct them and tell them the why's and how's of taking in carbohydrates after exercise.
Get this recovery method down, and you will be on your way to quicker and more improved race results in 2014!
MtbRaceNews.com article: Training with Power vs Heart Rate:
Training with power can give you the opportunity to take your road cycling and mountain biking to the next level. Check out the most recent article I wrote for mtbracenew.com :
The Big Three: Principles of Training you Should Know
Apply these principles to your training program to get the most out of the time you put into your workouts.
Every individual is unique in their own way. Some are good at short climbs, others at long climbs, some recover quickly from stage races, others not some much, some athletes do great on lots of volume, others not so much, and the list goes on and on.
Therefore, any training program you go with needs to revolve around you and only you. How much you train, how hard you train, when you train, and how much recovery you need should be based off you and only you. You are a unqiue individual and the best program for you is YOUR program. If you want to take training/racing to the highest level, always come back to this basic priniciple.
Build a program around you!
Get specific to what you are getting ready for. If you are racing for a mountain bike race that has a long 60 minute climb in it, 3-6 weeks out from that race start getting a workout in at least once a week that is very close to the intensity and duration of that climb. If you have a climb that is very similar, great! If not, do your best with what you have.
The closer you get to your high priority event(s), the more specific you should get. This also includes temperature(i.e. hot or cold temps), time of day you race, altitude(anything over 5000-7000 ft or Sea Level if you live at altitude), terrain, and specific events (i.e. crit vs road race). Every race has different demands and you should set your training plan up around that.
Add this priniciple to your training and you will start seeing improved results at your high priority races.
When training your body works like this: you push it beyond it's capable limits; damaging muscle fibers, stressing the heart out, taking your mitochondria to their limits(energy production cells), and absolutely tear it apart. Your body is actual worse after this. You are fatigued and your body is in a repairing mode. Depending on how hard you pushed your body, this can be anywhere from 24 hours to multiple weeks or months to repair. After this stress to your body, you HAVE TO let it repair itself to improve.
The key here is to stress the body out! Then let it recover.
Then it will supercompensate, or improve = you get faster!
Now that you are faster, the only way to get better again is to repeat the sequence. However, now your body is stronger. So you have to push it to new limits. You have to be "progressive" and you have to "progressively overload" your body. This is a continual process and is always a means of either increasing the intensity(i.e. more intervals, harder intervals with more power) or volume(i.e. longer days in the saddle, longer weeks of training volume).
As your body gets stronger, continue to challlenge and push it to new limits it hasn't seen before. This is super, super important to avoid hitting a plateau and to continue to improve.
These are 3 of the key elements to any training plan. Anytime you look into your training plan, come back to the big three and make sure you are following them.
Do this and you will be one more step to becoming faster in any sport you participate in!