Recovery is one of the most important factors in improving your performance as a cyclist. Without proper recovery, our body cannot make the adaptations necessary to improve, and you will carry excess fatigue from session to session, diminishing the quality of your training. In a sense, the quality of our recovery is just as important as the quality of our training, and the two are inextricably linked, you cannot have one without the other.
The ability to recover after hard training sessions can be difficult for time crunched amateur riders, with work, kids, study and other life stressors impairing our ability to recover. However there are a number of techniques and tricks you can use as a busy, time poor rider, that will enhance your ability to recover, and have a massive positive effect on your training, and fitness level.
Unfortunately, with the vast amounts of information available online, the waters have become muddied as to what works and what doesn’t when it comes to recovery. This has lead to a huge amount of confusion, as people are oversaturated with information, and it has become very difficult to differentiate between fact and fiction in this area..
For every article proclaiming ice baths to be the most effective recovery tool ever invented, there are ten others claiming that ice baths are nothing more than a hugely uncomfortable placebo, with no scientific evidence for their use.
Many cyclists have no proper recovery protocol in place post training, and because of this they are losing out on training adaptations, and placing themselves at a higher risk of illness and injury. One study found that athletes who sleep less than 8 hours a night were found to have a 1.7 times higher risk of injury compared to athletes who slept 8 hours or more.
Sleep is perhaps the single most important area where gains can be made with recovery. Many riders find it difficult to get enough sleep, and with the demands of work/college, family, and cycling to handle, this lack of quality sleep puts them at a huge disadvantage. Using phones late at night is a mistake many people make. The “blue light” emitted from phones disrupts the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep. Stop using your phone in the hour before bedtime to negate this effect, and improve your sleep quality as a result. Easy!
Improving your recovery this winter, can help set you up for your best season yet, and have a huge positive impact on your training.