Dec. 6, 2016

It has been well researched that optimal training for peak performance requires an individualized plan that is a well-balanced mixture of frequency, duration, intensity and recovery.  The HARDEST part of getting it all right is to embrace recovery time just as you would one of your most difficult workouts leading up to your race season. Getting into race shape feels amazing! At first everything BUT the recovery day (or a day off) feels right but after a while, things get easier, you feel strong and training through that rest day is oh so tempting.  But as most of you know, we need the proper mix of training and recovery to perform on race day.

Recovery can be categorized as active and passive (rest).  Active recovery days do include activity—a swim, bike or run in Zone 1 (less than 68% threshold HR/less than 55% of FTP/less than 2 RPE) that promotes recovery through low intensity.  The goal of this workout is to get blood flowing to your muscles to help them recover from training loads that have caused significant fatigue that typically lasts 24-72 hours.  This day would be focused on low impact activities like cycling, swimming, yoga, or strength training to complement the demands of your high-impact workouts (like running).  

Passive recovery or rest days doesn’t involve exercise at all.  The goal is to completely rest and relax: sleep in, enjoy family time, or do light errands or housework. Avoid strenuous tasks like raking the yard, painting the house, or helping a friend move.  As movement facilitates recovery in active recovery, passive recovery can be assisted with proper nutrition, hydration and manual manipulation of muscle tissue to promote healing.

Throughout my 25+ years of training, racing and coaching, I am always on the lookout for tools that enhance recovery times.  Active recovery workouts still demand energy output so refueling is a prime objective.  Products such as F2C NUTRITION have served me well.  Easy on the stomach makes it a good fit for my fickle system.  I also like the fact that I never feel compromised during random doping checks as every batch of F2C Nutrition is tested for substances considered prohibited in sport by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).  Also, all products carry the Informed Sport Certification and carries the Informed Sport Logo.  

Another product I have found that has truly taken mine and my athletes recovery to the next level is NormaTec. My goal personally and with the athletes I coach, is to make recovery an integral part of training. The NormaTec PULSE Recovery Systems utilizes compressed air to massage limbs, mobilize fluid, and speed recovery. I stand behind this system as it is easy to use, is backed by years of science and is portable.  A session begins by compressing your feet, hands, or upper quad (depending on which attachment you are using). Like kneading and stroking done during a massage, each segment of the attachment will first compress in a pulsing manner and then release. This will repeat for each segment of the attachment as the compression pattern works its way up your limb.  The beauty of this device is that it helps you recover quickly between training session and after performance.

Now that you are planning your 2017 season, make recovery a positive and proactive practice within your annual training plan.  Used properly and consistently, your recovery plan will take you to the next level of training and racing.

Lisa Cooper Colvin is an elite coach with Big Sexy Racing.  Lisa has a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology and is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.  A licensed clinical exercise physiologist, Lisa has coached hundreds of beginners to professional athletes over the last 20 years.  A former Team USA athlete, Lisa has racing and coaching experiences that help you reach your potential. For more information on coaching services provided by Lisa consult her page below.


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