Onto the final installment of my series looking at the best bang for your buck changes you can make to maximise training gains.
I talk about the 4 Rs of recovery - REhydrate, REpair, REfuel (so glycogen, protein and hydration) all covered in the nutrition section of this series) and then REst - including sleep and time for recovery. Let's now look into that time for recovery in a bit more detail:
You might have already heard me mention this one, but remember (say it along with me) 'you don’t get fitter from training. You get fitter from recovery from training'.
Now before we disappear down a rabbit hole of ice baths and compression etc, remember we're talking about getting the basics right here. We’ve already covered the biggies of sleep and nutrition in terms of recovery. After them, one of the most effective recovery methods is some really low intensity exercise, for example a veeeerrrry easy swim or spin (for those who talk FTP, we're talking 45-50%, yes that low!) on the bike. Most people struggle to do these at low enough intensity. Remember the goal here is to accelerate recovery and the gains from training you've already done.
It's also important to make time for recovery in your training plan. Pretty much all my plans have a rest day every week and a rest (or I call it a consolidation week) every few weeks so that your body has time to recover. You should come back from that rest week feeling on top form, not just because you’ve had some rest, but because your body has rebuilt itself stronger in that time.
And don’t make the mistake of saying ‘this week I’ve got a massive deadline at work so I wont be able to train much so I’ll make that my rest week'. Your body doesn’t differentiate between training stress and life stress – it's all stress. So if life stress is up that isn’t a recovery week.
And dont forget to some stretching and foam rolling in (these subjects are also covered in my blog on how adding just 5 minutes mobility work to your training plans can make all the difference.
Right that's it for now. There’s certainly more things you could do, but these are the big ones.
And remember, teams such as Sky/Ineos have whole support teams of people with PhDs in these subjects supporting the riders with their nutrition etc (and you still hear of lots of riders complaining because they found following the nutrition guidelines too hard).
It takes significant time and planning to, for example, periodise your diet around your training. And it's only worth doing if you do it well and consistently. So next time you find yourself wondering if you should be doing <insert the latest health fad or magic pill> first check whether you’ve got enough time and energy to make sure you've got the basics right?
Want help on putting these tips into practice? All my training plans include regular coaching calls where we discuss these sort of issues, including your nutrition plan for races, as well as
access to my client-only resources area with information on subjects such as diet. Find out more here.