How to recover well after a cycle race28 July, 2013 0 comments
How to recover well after a cycling race
If your aim in your cycling training is to ace a race, competition day will obviously be the culmination of your workout regimen. However, you shouldn’t just forget about your training routine once the important race is over – a good recovery is key to feeling strong, able and healthy as soon as possible after crossing that finish line, and should thus be an essential part of your routine..
What is more, if you have more than one race planned in a season, you will want to get back into the saddle soon to improve your performance even more – but you won’t be able to do that efficiently unless your body is recovered and ready for it. Here are some guidelines to make sure you recover well after a cycling race.
Nourish your body
The race – especially if it was a long one – has probably depleted the glycogen stores in your muscles, and the sooner you eat some carbohydrates, the quicker you will replenish them. This will help your muscles to restore and recover. In addition, you should add a good portion of protein to your post-race meal to support those muscles that get you further and faster. Sports nutrition experts suggest having a meal within 30 minutes of finishing a race. Therefore, you should make sure you can get something to eat when you’ve finished. If you can’t stomach a meal straight away, choose a drink that gives you both carbohydrates and protein instead.
Hydrate with an electrolyte drink
Although you probably drank during the cycling race, it is still important to drink right away when you’ve finished to reduce the risk of dehydration. Additionally, you should make sure you hydrate well for the rest of the day to make up for any losses in your body. It is even better if you choose to have a sports drink or a recovery drink with electrolytes in order to aid recovery of your muscles, since electrolytes will have depleted during the race. If you’re looking for a natural source, go for coconut water, or add blackstrap molasses and some lime juice to regular water.
Do some good stretching
To prevent stiffness and pain in your body, take some time to properly stretch your muscles after a cycling race. Work through all the relevant muscles, focusing more on those you tend to have trouble with. Don’t just stretch your legs – a cycling race will have had an effect on your whole body. Make sure that you definitely work on your hamstrings, glutes, quads, and back. If you’re feeling sore the next day, extra stretching then can help to relieve the pain.
Apply ice on sore spots
If you feel soreness or pain in any joints or muscles after the cycling race, ice can help to prevent the pain from getting worse, and to help in recovery time. You can use an ice pack to focus on the exact spots you need to recover. Alternatively, you might enjoy taking a cold shower and directing the water towards your sore spots to make them recover faster.
Go for a massage
If you have another race coming up soon, a massage can be a good idea to help your body to recover more quickly. Of course, rubbing your sore muscles yourself can aid in recovery, but a professional will make sure to work most efficiently on them. If you do decide to go for a massage, remember that feeling a bit weak in the muscles for the next few days is a normal occurrence. But since you’ve just competed in a race, you should take it easy anyway, so this shouldn’t be a problem.
Take a warm bath
A warm bath can help to ease the soreness in your muscles. However, this shouldn’t be done right after a race, when applying something cold can benefit your body more. Instead, if your race was in the morning, you can have a warm bath in the evening before going to sleep.
Get a good night’s sleep
Forget about celebrating your success at the cycling race until the early hours – now is the time your body needs some proper rest to recover from the exertion. Although individual needs of sleep vary, you should make sure to get in at least eight hours after your race. You will probably need an hour or two more than usually.
Take it easy for a few days
During the first days after your cycling race, your primary goal should be to recover. Therefore, it is best to take a few days off from working out and not exhaust yourself. If you insist on training, however, make sure that you are doing so for recovery – go at an easy pace to relax and release stiffness in your legs, and don’t try to push hard. You can also try some light swimming as an alternative – it is easier on the joints, and refreshing water can benefit your muscles. Or just go for a walk!
If you do cycling races, it is essential that you recover well in order to prevent injury and other risks of overtraining. Do you have any other good tips that you use to recover from races? Share them in the comments!