Here we are, officially into summer and heading into some amazing riding.
There's been many, many hours on your legs and body in general, and recovery during the height of the season is as important as ever. We must always keep in mind that exercise stresses the body and provides the stimulus to make positive adaptations. However, those adaptations do not take place with out hydration, nutrition, and REST. Additionally, to keep the gains going, we must go into the next training session appropriately recovered so we are able to perform the workout effectively.
Cyclists tend to be "do-ers" and sometimes have a tough time slowing down. Remember that not all recovery needs to be, or should be, active. The number one way to let your body absorb and adapt with all that great riding is SLEEP. And just RESTING is right up there on the list. Sometimes just sitting peacefully with your eyes closed for 10 minutes can be as or more beneficial than trying to squeeze in some form of active recovery like foam rolling or percussion gun work. That stuff is important, but so is just taking time out for yourself. Of course we must provide the building blocks for that rebuild, namely through enough food and plenty of water.
Here's two great listens:
Colby Pearce on Fasttalk:
CTS Recovery Podcast:
And then there's the thought of the recovery ride. For the most part, I'm a proponent, especially if the athlete finds it therapeutic and maintains their weekly routine. However, it needs to be SHORT (60 minute max, typically) and EASY (think riding in your street clothes to go get a coffee or some ice cream). If you use a power meter and/or a heart rate monitor, you should be in Zone 1 for the ride, with no surges. It should be noted that there is very little scientific evidence that recovery rides actually provide any additionally recovery, but anecdotally, many find they do something positive for them and don't seem to be detrimental..
Many find this very, very hard to do and if that's you, you may be better off skipping it all together. Unless you're on a rail trail, a recovery ride on while mountain biking is typically not possible. Additionally, group rides are often not going to work. An indoor trainer or, better yet, rollers, is a great idea if you find yourself tempted to punch it periodically while outside, or if the terrain in your riding area doesn't support an easy ride.
Most of all, recovery rides should not be a source of extra stress. If you find yourself short on time and/or energy, then skipping these and focusing on rest and getting to bed early will probably be much more beneficial.
Here's a good listen from some of my favorites, the good folks at FastTalk:
And a quick watch from the great folks at GCN:
So make sure your recovery includes SLEEP and REST, balanced nutrition with plenty of calories, steady hydration, and if you're doing a recovery ride, make sure it's truly easy.
Until next time, keep on keepin' on!
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.