After 9 months of training, my big race is finally complete. It’s a long season from January through September and I need time to recover before I can even think about what comes next.
My first priority for recovery is always sleep. That’s when the body repairs itself. I need about 9 hours per night and its rare that I sleep less. Food and water are critical, too. After a hard season of racing, you might think that I and others cut loose and eat all kinds of junk food, etc. I do that for about 2-3 days but then I resume my fairly routine eating habits because at 55 I need to make sure that what I eat serves my body well. Lots of plants, high quality protein and plenty of carbohydrates (whole and enriched).
External methods can also help me recover. I’m a big fan of hot water, saunas, compression gear and occasionally ice packs or baths. Regular massage is a treat that sometimes reduces my muscle soreness but can also cause more it if it’s too deep into the muscles.
I think the most important recovery tool an athlete has is time away from structured training. After every season, I take about 4-6 weeks to simply do what ever I want. After that, I resume my off season training schedule which usually involves longer, slower workouts and strength training mixed with flexibility and mobility work. By early January, I find that I’m ready to go again.