I’m ramping up the distance now that I do for events. I’m also hoping to start a more structured “training” program for higher intensity riding. Both of these put a stress on the body which will then need recovery.
As well as the (I hope obvious) notions of eating and sleeping properly after events, I use the methods and items listed below to aid my recovery
Stretching supposedly flushes out the waste products from inside the muscles. Whatever it does, it works for me. The basic stretches I use are ones for the Quadriceps, where the foot is pulled up to your backside, calf stretch leaning against a wall, a seated hamstring stretch and touching my toes.
I just do the poses for these different stretches and hold them for 20 seconds. If I feel like it I do them twice. Time to do: one or two minutes. Very quick to do and I’m sure they do some good
The theory behind a hot bath is that it forces the body to flush blood to the surface of the skin and therefore out of muscles. Then fresh blood will go in the muscles. Some proper athletes (and Eddy Izard when he ran a load of marathons) use the technique of an ice bath to do this. I’m sure this is slightly more effective but a hot bath is a lot more pleasant. A bath is better than a shower as the whole body gets hot at the same time.
Minimal extra time to do as you’d be washing anyway after a sweaty bike ride.
ZMA is a capsule which contains Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6. It is taken on an empty stomach about an hour or so before sleeping. It is supposed to enhance the bodies own production of testosterone. If you eat properly then these substances are probably in your body anyway but for me the ZMA tablet seems to help. Maybe I don’t eat enough Zinc/Magnesium stuff! Time to do not a lot but you have to not eat before sleeping and remember to take it at an appropriate moment.
The idea of the “hair of the dog” is familiar to drinkers. After a heavy session of alcoholic abuse the night before, nothing sorts out the bad feelings like a little more alcohol. Cycling is the same. After a heavy ride the day before, an easy ride the next day helps the body recover. The best way to do these is to not put any effort in. Go at a low rate of effort and don’t be tempted to sprint or push hard up hill. Time to do at least an hour so could be problem if you’ve just spent the whole of the last weekend riding around Wales.
Glycogen is a easily used muscle fuel within the body. It is most easily taken up in the form of carbohydrates. It is used up during aerobic exercise. After a couple of hours of cycling, Glycogen levels will usually be low. According to a lot of research, if lots of carbs are taken on immediately after exercise the Glycogen is converted really quickly and diverted to the muscles that are short of it. This speeds up recovery as normally it would take longer to “refuel” the body in this way. The correct sports science way to do this is to use a long chain glucose polymer drink or “even better” a glucose drink with extra predigested amino acids.
I use this as an excuse to generally over eat after a long ride but if I am training then I will use the recovery drinks. Time to do is quick, as the recovery drink has to be consumed as quickly as possible afterwards.
Recovery can mean different things to different people. If you need to go to work the next day without your legs feeling like they have been beaten with rods- that’s one criteria. If you need to get ready for another training ride the next day- that’s another criteria. But allowing time for recovery is a key thing to do if you want to get stronger over time