Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mistakes and Strategies for Long Workout Recovery

By Michael Donikian, USAT Certified Coach, NASM-CPT

Training this week has been tough and not because the training itself has been tough but because my recovery has been poor. I've had a few late nights, some happy hours and events and the usual early mornings. By the time Saturday morning came around I was pretty beat though I still had a 75 mile ride 4000 ft of climbing scheduled as part of the NYCC A-SIG Classic ride series, for which I am a ride leader. Not the kind of thing I could just skip, shorten, or modify at my own discretion.

After some coffee and a bagel I rode a short 3 miles to the meet up location. My legs felt like they were still asleep but I was cautiously optimistic they'd "wake up" after 20-30 miles. The major hill came at around the 35 mile mark and decided this would be a opportunity to test my legs. I started off going hard at a pace I knew I could sustain for the 2.5 mile climb under normal circumstances. I quickly fell apart though... the pace was not sustainable under my current condition. Instead I chose to hold back and go at a much easier pace and hopefully have something left for the remaining 40 miles. After some regrouping at the top of the hill, we had a quick briefing about safety and took the descent on the backside of the hill. We didn't even go a quarter mile when we came upon a mess of ambulances, fire trucks, and flashing red lights. I hoped it wasn't our people but it was. It appeared that two of our riders got hit by a car making a left turn. They must have been going 30 mph or more on that downhill. They got taken away by ambulance (as of Sunday they're recovering well but won't comment more out of respect for their privacy).

Needless to say the group took it pretty easy for the rest of the ride, especially on the descents. Despite the easier pace, I was still pretty beat by the end of it. I wish I had taken extra recovery nutrition post ride but was stressed for time once I got home and just couldn't fit it all in. I would pay for this mistake!

By Sunday morning (today) my legs felt like bricks. I had a 9 mile run scheduled today, which I dropped down to about 5. I then swam for about 20 minutes. To help facilitate greater recovery I structured my run to follow the Western Australia One-Day Carbo Loading Protocol. I then proceeded to eat unusually large amount of carbs (700g given my body comp) such that I could be back to normal (or better) come Monday. As of right now I'm maybe only 300-400g in but still working on it.

Tips for making the protocol work
In the past, I've had great success with this protocol though it is quite difficult to follow. One of the easiest ways to make it work is by making super concentrated drink mixes of Hammer HEED. If you get the 80 serving container, it's actually quite cost effective (less than $0.59 per 100 cal serving). Gu Recovery Brew is another great choice since it's got a 7:1 ratio of carbs to protein... unusual for most recovery drinks, but ideal for these types of applications. You can mix it up with fruit in a blender and make yourself a custom smoothie. People usually don't think of Hammer HEED or other high carb sources as being recovery drinks but if used properly they can have amazing results.

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