10 Essentials for a Relaxing Yet Productive Recovery Week: Adapted for Running
What’s the most important part of any training plan? The recovery periods. For a training plan to be worthwhile, it needs to allow time for recovery. Otherwise all your hard work won’t matter. Typically, training will be done in four-week cycles where there are three weeks of hard riding (with 3-4 hard days per week,) followed by a recovery week, where training volume and/or intensity are reduced. But aside from less running, how do you get the most out of your recovery week?
Here are 10 ideas:
There’s nothing better for sore, aching muscles than a professional massage. (Beer is a close second, though.)
Massage provides tons of recovery benefits. It will increase blood flow to your muscles, giving them fresh oxygen and flushing out any byproducts of exercise. It will relieve muscle cramps and spasms, not to mention stress and tension.
Massage is also good for treating any nagging injuries, as it reduces the build-up of scar tissue inside your body.
2. Soothing Creams and Gels
If you can’t afford a professional massage every day, and you don’t feel like doing self-massage, here’s an idea – spread some gel on your legs and let it do the work for you! You can get some pain-relieving gel and rub that into your legs, which should provide a nice warming or tingling sensation.
This is free and easy – keep yourself hydrated! Keeping your body properly hydrated ensures that your body can perform all the tasks necessary to help you recovery, as well as flush out any build-up of toxins from intense running.
Duh! Sleep is the ultimate recovery tool. Getting enough sleep every night is a good idea, but it’s especially important during recovery weeks. While you sleep, your body restores itself and performs vital actions that don’t happen when you’re awake, so don’t skip sleep. That means going to bed early enough that you can sleep until you are ready to get up (as opposed to getting up when the alarm clock says to.)
Since your running time is cut back, now is a good time to work on your flexibility (remember the Yoga demo we had maybe it’s a good time to take them up on their offer!). Enhanced flexibility means less pain and a more aerodynamic position on the bike. Just two or three 20-minute stretching sessions this week will really improve your running. Even if you do yoga or stretching regularly try to focus on them even more during recover weeks so that your body stays loose and supple and your mind stays relaxed.
Speaking of relaxing… extra sleep, massages, and green tea only go so far – if your recovery week is full of stress, it’s not a recovery week! This is one week where you really want to avoid stressful situations and “go with the flow.”
7. Recovery Runs
Yes, you still have to run during recovery weeks! You’ll want to go out but go easy and your heart rate low. The point is to get your blood flowing and circulating through your body. You don’t want your legs to get stale!
8. Proper Nutrition
While it might be OK to sneak in a little junk food, you should load up on healthy foods during a recovery week. You want a variety of nutrients, so eat a variety of healthy foods to give your body what it needs to rebuild itself. That is part of what recovery is for – to help repair those microscopic muscle tears and pulls. One of the best way to do that is to ensure it has the right fuel and nutrients to optimize the amount of recovery you can accomplish this recovery. Lots of bright colourful fruits and veggies, whole grains from oatmeal and some quality proteins and fasts.
9. A Good Book
If you get sick of planning race strategies and dealing with travel logistics, relax your mind by taking a little mental break from the run. Try a book. It could be anything that interests you, just NOT something about setting up a training plan or interval workouts!
10. An Action/Adventure Movie
After you finish the book, get back into gear by capping off the recovery week with an intense, action-packed movie. This will get your mind back in the game and get you motivated!
Just don’t pamper yourself too much, because the hard running will be back on your schedule before you know it!