Riding 500+ miles over 7 consecutive days requires a keen focus on daily recovery protocols. Get it right and you’ll be surprised how well your body responds each day. Ignore it and your week will feel much harder and uncomfortable than it needs to be.
Before we continue on the subject of post ride recovery let’s remember what I wrote in the first blog, (How can I ride 500+ miles?). What and how much you eat and drink before and during the ride will affect how well you recover for the next day. If you consume the right amount of fluids and nutrition during the ride you will require less recovery time and energy than if you finish the ride dehydrated and with completely depleted glycogen stores. So think about eating and drinking on the bike as part of your recovery process.
OK, so let’s talk about recovery; a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
With the right recovery protocol you can bring your body back from an exhausted physical and mental state to a normal state of health and readiness in time for the next day’s ride. The power of post exercise nutrition and sleep cannot be overstated.
Simply put, riders who optimize post-exercise nutrition routines will perform better the next day than riders skipping post-exercise recovery fueling. Refueling accurately and consistently after workouts will restore muscle and liver glycogen stores, replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat, promote muscle repair and bolster the immune system. In addition quickly reducing post ride body temperature, personal hygiene and sleep all contribute to your body’s ability to transform itself from how you feel at the end of today’s ride to how you want to feel at the beginning of tomorrow’s.
So let’s review the elements of a good post ride recovery routine.
Bring Down Your Core Temperature
Riding long distances in summer heat and humidity will raise your core temperature. First thing to do in your post-ride recovery routine is bring it down. Immediately as possible after your finish cool your body down by sitting in the shade, drinking cool fluids, sitting in cool water or pouring iced water over your head. Cooling off will stop dehydration and begin to increase your appetite.
Within 30 Minute After Your Ride
Fluid, electrolytes, carbohydrates and protein are the foundation of your recovery nutrition protocol. Start replacing fluid and electrolyte losses with a drink containing electrolytes. You can estimate fluid losses by weighing yourself before and after training and drinking 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every one pound lost. To restore muscle glycogen consume 0.8g per kg of body weight of carbohydrate and 0.2g per kg of body weight of protein within 30 minutes of finishing exercise. For a 180 pound athlete this would be 65g of carbohydrate and 16g of protein.
In this 30 minute window, fluid, electrolytes, carbohydrates, and protein can be replaced with a commercial recovery drink and whole foods.
Two To Three Hours After Your Ride
Two to Three hours after your finish, continue your recovery protocol by eating a carbohydrate dominant whole foods meal. This meal should contain a macronutrient ratio of approximately 60% carbohydrate, 20% protein and 20% fat. Also, continue to hydrate the rest of the evening right up until bed time.
The primary objectives of post-exercise stretching to enhance recovery are two-fold: Reduce muscle soreness and regain pre-exercise ranges of motion. Incorporate a daily 10-20 minute stretch in your post exercise recovery routine.
Shower and change as soon as you can after your ride. Making sure you take a shower and put on a fresh set of clothes can make a huge difference — for your health, and for those that need to be around you for the rest of the day. Also make sure to wash your cycling shorts after every ride. Pay special attention to the chamois area of the shorts.
Quality sleep equals good recovery. Equally long term poor sleep will result in diminished performance. Sleep is the time when the body recovers from the stresses loaded upon it, and the repair of muscle and connective tissue begins. Naps are an excellent recovery tool for athletes!
Your ESR Post Ride Recovery Routine.
1. Bring down core body temperature.
2. Consume 0.8g per kg of body weight of carbohydrate and 0.2g per kg of body weight of protein within 30min of finishing exercise.
3. Shower and change
4. 10-20min stretching
5. 30-60min nap
6. Eat a carbohydrate dominant meal 2-3h post ride. 60%carbs, 20%protein, 20%fat
7. Sleep 8 hours.
-Coach Charlie Livermore
Charlie is a seasoned riding coach from CTS Training and will be along for the entire Empire State Ride this summer.