Starting a workout without adequate recovery, could be doing more damage than good.
Do this too many times in a row, and performance will quickly decline.
For many of us, when we see ourselves getting slower, we think we need to train more. This is the last thing we should do!!!!! In many cases, more training will cause an injury or result in some sort of illness as the immune system can’t keep up. If you find yourself chronically fatigued, the fastest way to get back on track, is to first let your body heal.
One way to avoid over-training is to follow a pre-planned program which includes both recovery days and a full week of recovery once a month. Even if you are feeling strong, DON’T SKIP THE RECOVERY WEEK(S).
But recovery isn’t about doing nothing. It can include easy workouts, stretching, yoga, and “fun days”. These are added to the training program for a reason; they all help your muscles recover faster and mentally reduce stress.
So how do you make the most of your recovery time?
The more intense the workout, the more recovery time you need.
48hrs should be enough rest, but you may need to extend this time if you made a big jump in your training volume/intensity or after a hard race or event. If you still don’t feel rested before your next strenuous workout, it is best to skip it and take more time to recover.
When you first start any sport there is going to a period of adaptation. For cycling, this feeling lasts a bit longer as you are building an endurance base. Once you have established a solid base (of 2-3 hours comfortably), you should no longer be bagged and need a nap after your long rides.
OTHER TIPS (specifically to cycling but can be adapted to other sports)
1. Add in a short (30-60min) recovery ride the day after an intense workout. Keep your recovery rides light and easy, spinning the legs quickly (over 85 RPM) with very little to no intensity.
2. Stretch hip flexors (top of legs into the abs), glutes (buttocks), quads (front of legs), low back, and hamstrings (back of legs) religiously. Ideally, do a movement stretching program instead of static holds.
3. Enjoy time off the bike to cross-train. Doing something new is a great stress reliever but will also help strengthen muscles you are not using on the bike. The most complimentary sports are swimming, yoga, tai chi, or weight training (Your focus should be on core and upper body during the summer. Hard leg and weight training are best done in the off-season during the fall and winter).
4. Your body is trying to heal from the moment you get off the bike until you get back on again. Plan meals ahead of time to ensure you are well-fuelled (both food and water) before and after each workout.
5. Muscles repair during sleep, so don’t skimp on your zzz’s.
6. If you are suffering from fatigue, frequent colds/flu, injuries, general fatigue, depression, or more frequent irritation, it may mean that you are overtraining. Take a few days off until you feel better. When you come back to training, ease back into it slowly. Training when you are sick will likely only prolong your illness.
7. If you follow the Kits Energy Training Program, you will see a recovery week every 4th week. During a recovery week, your volume/distance is reduced, BUT your intensity is NOT. By maintaining intensity, you will not lose any fitness. After the week is over, your body should have adapted to the previous month’s stress, and you will be ready to add more stress/training again.
SIDE NOTE: If you are new to cycling or a more “seasoned” rider, you may need a recovery week every 3rd week instead of four. Listen to your body as it always knows best.