Develop an Exercise Recovery Routine to Improve Performance
Believe it or not, 7-11 has a killer egg salad sandwich. There I said it, you can get a mean sandwich at 7-11. Those of you that know the chain of convenience stores will have a hard time swallowing that, but it's true. So why do you care? well I happened to stop in there one day as I desperately needed a recovery snack and thought I might be able to assemble a post-swim meal. It was easy to do-egg salad sandwich, cheese stick, dill pickle and a water. It was good and real food beats a Powerbar and a VitaminWater any day of the week and twice on Sunday. But the point is, there are some good eats everywhere and pretty easy to put together the very important post-workout refueling.
Developing an exercise recovery routine is essential to improve athletic performance and reduce injury risks!
First 30 Minutes
It's important to get some food on board in the first 30 minutes after a workout. The harder the workout or race the more important it is and if it means a Coke and a Luna bar, then so be it. I have a post run ritual of a glass of chocolate milk and it has a perfect mix of carbs, proteins and fats. I know there was some dairy funded research that said the same and so many people questioned it, but the fact is if you can tolerate lactose, it's perfect. Regardless, get some food in you as soon as possible for tissue repair and refueling
It's Getting fluids replaced adequately will shorten or improve recovery. You can go as far as weigh-in pre and post workout and figure out your sweat rate. Do some simple math while taking into account how much you consumed during exercise and you can quickly figure out how much fluid you need to replace. See also Ultrarunning Hydration, Hydration and Electrolytes - Impact on Athletic Performance, and Hiking, Climbing and Backpacking Hydration and Electrolyte Strategies.
Quality sleep is vital for recovery. I was running a ton of mileage in college and was also injured quite a bit. I had to adjust my class schedule so I could still get 8 hours of sleep. I also studied the effects of brainwaves on athletic recovery and you can understand why late nights out drinking have a profound effect on your ability to perform at your best. If you can't get normal restful sleep, you will never recover fully. See also 12 Tips to Good Sleep.
Elevate your legs
One of my favorite recovery routines is to lay on the couch with my legs up. Prop up on the wall or on pillows or on the back of the couch. Do that for 30 minutes at the end of the day and you'll start feeling fresher during your workouts.
Oh, and pick up an egg-salad sandwich!
Chris Harig is competitive runner, multisport athlete, and coach based in the
Seattle area. In 2010, Chris was the USA Long Course Duathlon National Champion. In 2007 and 2008, he was the top American at the ITU Duathlon
World Championships. More about Chris Harig.