Recovery Recommendations - Tips + Tricks From Sydlik
Sleep: This seems obvious, but it needs to be said. Everyone's needs are different, but you'll perform better if you're getting 8 hours of sleep. Or more if you're trying to recover from a tough race or training session! More recent research shows that athletes show increasing performance benefits with up to 10 hours sleep! To help with this one, I like to use the Swisse Sleep supplement. The ingredients are very gentle, so I’m able to get up easily and get right to a morning workout without feeling groggy. Naps can help a lot too!
Foam Rolling or Massage: I’ve casually used foam rolling for a number of years now, but I’ve more recently been adding it into my training regime. Massage is great, but it can get expensive, and quite frankly I hate the feeling of massage oil. I do not want to pay $100 to feel like a greased pig, thank you very much! Fortunately, many of the same benefits can be found from foam rolling. Lately, I’ve been setting a timer for 15 minutes on my rest days and using that time to foam roll, use the stick, or just take a tennis ball to a trigger point to release some tension. Typically, I roll my quads, glutes, and IT band, and use that tennis ball to release my hip flexors and psoas. You’ll be amazed at how quickly 15 minutes goes by and how much more recovered you feel the next day!
Proper Nutrition: We all know that my teammate, Lori, is the expert here, but I cannot stress enough the importance of proper nutrition! Every endurance athlete has experienced “the bonk” and that is simply a direct result of poor nutrition. Make sure that you’re fueling and hydrating while training, but fueling doesn’t finish when the workout stops. I always have a recovery drink or smoothie with at least 20g protein while stretching and foam rolling. In general throughout the day when I’m training, I aim for over 6 g carbohydrates and 1.2 g protein per kilogram of body weight to ensure that my body has ample fuel. I also take a multivitamin and I’ve also been sipping Ginger-Turmeric tea to lower inflammation.
Compression Socks: They sell a lot of fancy, expensive compression socks and tights for recovery, and this is because they definitely help! Compression socks are my favorite trick for recovering during the colder months, or for keeping your legs fresh while driving to a race. I've tried more expensive versions, but my favorites are the $5 version you can get at your local drug store. Basically, the idea here is that you're compressing your lower legs to prevent the blood (with waste products from your workout) from pooling and to help your legs recirculate the blood.
Legs up the Wall: This literally drains the blood out of your legs, which takes the built up toxins with it so that when you stand up, fresh blood rushes in. I stay like this for 30 minutes, but some of my friends can get the effect in less time.
Ice Baths: We all know that icing an injury helps bring down inflammation, right? The idea here is the same, with the added benefit that all of your blood will rush out of your legs and into your core for survival. Thus, it will be replaced by fresh blood once you warm up. Professional athletes on a higher payroll use extreme versions of cryotherapy, but we can get a similar effect by filling our bathtubs with cold water, adding 2 bags of ice, and sitting there for 20 minutes. You can put on warm fleece or jacket and hat while your sitting in the tub to prevent actual hypothermia. If your body temperature still hasn't returned to normal an hour after you get out of the tub, you may want to take a warm shower to get things flowing again. I always have to do this because I get really cold!
Contrast Showers: This is my favorite recovery trick for the summer time. Basically, it's what it sounds like: You alternate between 1 minute of hot water (as hot as you can stand it) and 1 minute of cold water (as cold as you can stand it). I do this for the duration of my shower, so that it's very efficient multi-tasking. The idea here is that during the cold bouts, your blood (which is full of the waste compounds from your hard workout) rushes out of your limbs and to your core, to support life. Fresh blood travels back to the limbs during the warm bouts. This is better for summer or indoor workouts, as it helps bring your core temperature down. Once the temperature drops below 60F, I get too cold for this to be effective.