Blog

How to recover fast

Categories

We all know recovery is vital for any athlete. It is easy to push yourself hard for one day but to do that over an extended period of time, such as at a grand tour or any stage race, is a completely different situation.

The difference between pro athletes and many amateur athletes is how much focus is put on recovery. Being strict and having a recovery routine that is built into your training can make a significant difference to performance.

So what is a good recovery protocol?

  • Recover during the race –  work out what to eat and drink during exercise
  • Warm down, 20 minutes, you know the drill and begin rehydrating (Take an indoor trainer with you)
  • Once your warm down is done take in your recovery drink
  • Shower (a saddle sore isn’t going to bode well for your next ride)
  • Ice bath (10 mins) to help decrease the inflammation quickly
  • Put on compression kit and/or use compression boots
  • 45 minutes post exercise – eat real food. Good carbs and some protein
  • Keep that rehydration going for the rest of the day (but don’t over do it, watch the colour of your urine keep it light straw coloured)
  • Massage to flush the muscles and reduce the risk of Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
  • If massage isn’t available a really warm bath with 2 cups of Epsom Salts will also go a long way to easing DOMS
  • Put your feet up and rest. It’s the one time you can be a couch potato
  • Sleep. Sleep is probably one of the most important things to do to recover. Whilst we sleep our body repairs itself, the more sleep the more time our body has time to repair

 

For more information on an individual recovery protocol for you specifically please contact me through our website.

Strategic sports nutrition – it can make a significant difference!

Over the past decade nutrition has emerged as one of the most important building blocks to athletic performance. Whilst athletes and coaches appreciate the need to optimize nutrition historically the focus was what to consume/drink on the bike. This then evolved to “the pre-race meal” and then we saw athletes walking around after races with a recovery drink. During this evolution adopting different nutritional theories and philosophies became the norm for the modern day athlete, from the recreational enthusiast to the professional sportsman.

Vegan, vegetarian, ketosis (fat adapted) and genetic blood type nutrition philosophies have all been thrown into the mix. A far cry from the eating plans of past icons such as the Comrades hero Wally Hayward and rugby’s Frik du Preez, both who would swear by a steak before their respective events.

Even if we look at the European pro peloton of riders, until quite recently many of them, in particular the Italians, were having pasta before their races. Now we see the likes of Chris Froome eating a combination of all macronutrients namely, fat, carbohydrates and protein and whilst the days of carbo-loading have largely disappeared for the professional cyclist, carbohydrates remain a key nutrient as they easily and quickly convert into energy. The old faithful “red ambulance” Coca Cola is still seen consumed in the pro cycling ranks as a quick fix of energy on a long hard day of riding.

However, a more individual strategic nutritional plan for off the bike has made its mark on the sporting fraternity. Although we still do have athletes consuming whatever comes their way and posting good performances, this may be due to their predisposed genetic talent.

Individual strategic nutrition looks at the athlete as a whole and takes into consideration a number of factors mainly genetics and environmental influences, and can be designed around a particular sporting event. One nutritional doctrine or theory may not be the answer particularly as individuals can have different physiological reactions to certain foods and man-made compositions.

Therefore blood type, ketosis and strategic carbohydrate intake should be considered and combined in a calculated way to provide the athlete with a nutritional platform for superior sustained energy, and importantly a less toxic and inflamed physiological outcome.

Sports nutrition and supplementation has become a huge business and the marketing has perhaps created a sporting community that may be less informed or more confused by the many different products and theories presented. Ticking the basic boxes like consuming whole foods and knowing your body, (blood type is a good thing to get checked) and its response to certain foods is more important than consuming the latest product on the market. Once you know the basics then a strategic nutritional plan can be formulated.

The old cliché “once size fits all” is no longer applicable in the world of optimal sports nutrition.

Superior bike handling skills can be a game-changer when racing

A win in the pro peloton requires a superior physical performance both input (cardio vascular) and output (muscular power). However more and more riders are also enjoying a competitive advantage because of their superior bike handling skill sets. Peter Sagan is the perfect example, whether he is bunny hopping pavements or moving swiftly through an “aggressive” peloton winding up for the final sprint to the line. This type of riding requires supreme confidence in handling and maneuvering the bike at high speeds with ever changing variables such as riders changing lines and braking and/or road “furniture”. Sagan has often won a race because he is perfectly positioned at the right moment to strike. This does not just happen through brute strength but rather a combination of foresight, insight and superior bike handling skills.

Due to technological advancements riders are racing at much higher speeds than two decades ago. Improvements in both bikes and tires have produced highly aerodynamic and very fast “machines” and now millimeters may be all that is required to win a race. Bunches fly into corners with final sprints approaching  speeds in excess of 60kph. The ability to squeeze through spaces at these speeds requires years of racing experience but also requires confidence, nerve and patience to unleash that final dive for the line.

Superior climbers such as Nibali and Froome will attack on a descent as they both have the skills to negotiate a fast and technical downhill. Froome is particularly interesting, sometimes looking ungainly, but he can take corners faster than many of his fellow GC riders. In last year’s Tour de France Froome attacked after a climb on a long descent and in the process made up some useful time.

The playing field has become so competitive that riders have to look everywhere in order to make up or gain seconds on their rivals. Pinot a few years back had a dreadful experience on one of the descents in the Tour and literally cracked. He then spent some time racing cars in order to systematically gain confidence in coping with high speeds.

Great classics riders like Phillip Gilbert and Tom Boonen also have the ability to handle wet slippery roads at high speeds and we regularly see them attacking in treacherous conditions, often pulling off a win. Recently Gilbert posted on twitter a photograph of his Garmin recording 120kph!

The modern day pro rider needs more than just power. Winning requires adaptability and competence in all terrains and circumstances, and many pro teams run training camps just to practice these skill sets. Chris Froome admits he learned his superior descending skills from his Sky teammates, and has now mastered the art of flying down hills (which he used to devastating effect in the 2016 Tour).

Riders constantly analyze their rival’s skill sets (both strengths and weaknesses) in order to have a strategy if an opportunity arises. For example a few years ago some riders lost valuable time on a stage that saw a typical “classic” scenario with riders and teams having to contest sections of cobblestones, which although not totally unknown, is unusual in a Grand Tour. Nibali’s classics experience kicked in and he scored minutes over his rivals.

In contrast Contador and Quintana have both on occasion lost time in cross winds whereas riders accustomed to the classic cross winds often use them as an opportunity to launch an attack. Last year in the Tour, Sagan and Froome with the help of teammates, attacked in strong crosswinds. Sagan went on to win the stage and Froome gained valuable seconds.

The combination of advanced equipment and super fit athletes creates an explosive chemistry, which ultimately also requires superior bike handling skills to deliver the artistry we see today. Peter Sagan “playing” around with his wheelies is another example of him fine-tuning his art.

Master those bike-handling skills.