Recovery for Athletes

A lot of athletes think of recovery as a day off from working out. While this is part of recovery, it is not the only part. The most successful athletes know that recovery has 3 parts-

1. Nutrition
2. Sleep
3. Time/Day off

Nutrition- Athletes are always asking us what to eat while they are working out or racing. While this is an important aspect of training, it is only a small part. If the rest of your diet isn’t supporting the work that you are doing, you will not be successful.

Recovery in terms of nutrition includes not only what you eat, but when. You need to make sure you refuel with quality protein and carbohydrate 30-60 after your workout. This will help your body begin the repairing process from the work you just did. You also need to make sure you are eating quality protein/fat/carbohydrate at all of your other meals. If you have specific nutrition questions or concerns, contact our RD Emily Field.

 

Sleep- It takes sleep to build your body back up more powerful than before. Your body heals the micro-trauma that you did to the muscle cells. If you have ever been sore and achy and then had a good 8-10 hours of sleep, you know exactly what we mean. There’s nothing better than sleeping for recovery and growth.

So, you might be asking, how much sleep should I be getting to maximize recovery? We know it’s been said way too often before, but it’s very true that a good 8 hours of sleep at night is best. We know you’re too busy, too hurried and have too much to do but we really want you to drop your excuses. If you’re seriously looking for growth, and putting the time into your many training sessions, then you owe it to yourself to get the sleep you need. Make sleep a priority, just like your exercise plan. Don’t underestimate napping! It’s a great way to get in the sleep you need, despite the bad reputation it has received these days. A quick nap in the middle of the day will recharge you, help you grow and recover, and can also be very satisfying.


Time/Day off- Ideally those that are building up to a big event will have one day off a week. This day off should be taken seriously and is not a day to make up workouts or add in additional workouts. By not allowing your body a day to recover you run the risk of overtraining and not be able to workout at all!

Use this day off to work on mobility, or to get a massage or see the chiropractor. You can still be working on achieving your goals if you aren’t working out. There’s no magic formula for optimal days of rest. Take your fitness level, intensity, frequency, and duration of activity into account, and look for signs that the body needs a break, like chronic muscle or joint soreness and impaired physical performance.  Be sure to recognize the difference between pain and soreness! And Most of all, don’t be afraid to take some time off.