Recovery tips tried and tested
Optimising recovery on your cycling holiday
Recovery is an essential part of getting fitter and faster. It is however an overlooked element of training with lots of people either not taking any measures to help the body recover or rushing the recovery part of their training session. This is even more so during a cycling holiday as you want to make the most of the good weather and a recovery strategy often gets replaced by sunbathing or a trip to the bar. Of course we aren’t saying don’t sunbathe or drink, you are on holiday after all but it would be wise to take a few small steps to help the body recover, which will in turn keep you riding for longer, reduce the risk of injury and help you reap the rewards of your training holiday.
Here are some ideas as to what to do after your rides with Ciclo Costa Blanca:
1. Cool down
After each ride make sure that you do a suitable cool down. By helping the body get rid of waste products, including lactic acid, a cool down will help reduce the risk of post training muscle soreness, commonly known as DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness). Many cyclists, especially when in groups have a tendency to increase the speed on the way home with the last few miles taking on the appearance of Grand Tour stage finish! It is, however more beneficial to slow down on those final few miles and spin in an easy gear. If you don’t want to lose face in front of your buddies and insist on racing to the finish then make sure you have a short easy spin after arriving at your resort.
There is about a 30 minute optimal slot for taking in food after training. This is best time for your muscles to absorb nutrients, assisting with muscle repair and promoting muscle growth. Your body’s metabolism is working at a higher rate to recover, refuel and adapt to the training. Have a protein shake after training as it takes seconds to make and is quickly absorbed by the body. MetaBike cafe sells some High5 protein powders so you don’t have to bring your own. You should also have a meal within 2 hours of training.
After completing your cool down have a stretch. Most people neglect to do this. Ideally schedule about 10-15 minutes after your training to stretch the main muscle groups. Hold the stretch for between 30 to 60 seconds. Static stretches-that is stretches that you hold are best for post training as they help the muscles to relax, realign muscle fibres and re-establish the normal range of movement.
4. Soak the legs
There has been a lot of publicity about athletes taking ice baths, which reduce swelling and tissue breakdown. The hotels used by Ciclo Costa Blanca have swimming pools, which during the winter months may be cool enough to dip your legs into, otherwise you can just run a cold bath in your hotel room. The hotel bars will also be able to give you some ice either to drop into the bath or to apply to any injuries or sore areas.
5. Compression kit
Research is still being carried out on the benefits of compression kit but it is thought that by increasing blood flow, muscles are resupplied with their fuel- glycogen and metabolic waste is cleared, enhancing recovery. I always take my full length compression tights with me on holiday as I feel as if it is really supporting the muscles and reducing vibration after long rides.
This is probably the hardest thing to do on a training holiday. Time is of course limited and you want to make the most of the sun and not being at work. However, it is essential to give your body time to recover. The muscles repair and grow when they are resting. If possible try and have a post-ride nap-you are in the land of the siesta after all! If you are with your family this might not be easy as you will want to spend some quality time with them. Maybe factor in an easy afternoon after your longest ride of the week, where you can sit on the beach or by the pool whilst the kids play and you relax on the sunbather (whilst keeping hydrated of course!) Of course the most important rest time is when we are sleeping so try and get 7-8 hours a night. Again, this might not be so easy on holiday when many people want to explore the local nightlife but try and get a balance and get a reasonable amount of sleep if you know you have a long ride the next day. It also makes sense to plan your rides in advance so that you don’t have lots of hard, long rides one after the other. Plan some easier or shorter rides between those long efforts.
Sports massage therapy can help prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and relieve tight muscles by encouraging blood and lymph flow throughout the body. Some of the hotels used by Ciclo Costa Blanca have spas that offer massage or Terry or Dani can put you in touch with a local massage therapist. I always take a hollow massage roller that I can use if I can’t find a massage therapist to target those tight muscles. These are ideal as they are small and being hollow, you can stuff things inside of them in your suitcase! If you don’t have a massage on holiday then pre-book one for when you return home as I am pretty sure you will need one after a week or two in the saddle!
Hopefully these ideas will help your body to adapt to spending more time in the saddle, help make your body stronger and thereby make your training holiday more beneficial.
Helen is a former age-group European triathlon champion and World and European duathlon champion. She is a Ciclo Costa Blanca Ambassador and last year cycled the entire route of the Tour de France as part of the ‘One Day Ahead team’, which raised £1m for Cure Leukaemia. You can follow her training and racing on Twitter via @helengoth