How to Recover from Ironman Triathlon, Marathon, and Ultra Training and Racing, and Endurance Challenges like distance Cycling, Hiking and Climbing
Developing an effective recovery strategy is essential to peak performance and injury prevention. Fatigue and energy depletion occurs after Ironman Triathlons, Marathons, Ultras and other endurance sport training and events, long bike rides, climbing, hikes, or after long periods of physical activity. Although endurance athletes have acute recovery needs, developing a recovery strategy and overcoming fatigue is important to all athletics and the physically active. This fatigue has several causes including:
(i) low liver and intramuscular glycogen levels, and low blood glucose levels,
(ii) muscle tissue damage that decreases the contractile and elasticity ability of the muscle,
(iii) neural and central nervous system fatique, in part caused by electrolytes depletion, that impairs neuromuscular function,
(iv) lower levels of testosterone and the growth hormones (HGH and IGF-1) which are needed for physiolgic and psychological recovery
To quicken and aid recovery it is recommended:
1. Rehydrate. Rehydration is mission critical. Begin hydration immediately after your training or event and continue hydrating until your pretraining or event weight is obtained. See Ultrarunning Hydration by James Styler
2. Restore Healthy Glycogen and Glycose Levels. Beginning within 20 minutes after a long workout, have small meals of carbohydrates every 30 minutes for 3 hours, to restore glycogen and glucose to healthy levels.
3. Restore Electrolyte Balance. Electrolyte rebalance should begin immediately by consuming natural sources of electrolytes such as milk and bananas. For a list of natural sources of electrolytes See Hydration and Electrolytes for Peak Performance by Paul Bennett, Jr
4. Lower Resting Heart Rate. Lowering your resting heart rate is important to quicken your recovery! See Resting Heart Rate as Key Health Indicator
5. Amino Acid and Protein Intake. Amino acid and protein uptake is three times fasster and greater than normal after a good workout. Milk, yogurt, or a tuna fish sandwich are good quick protein sources.
6. Naturally Encourage Production of Testosterone and the Growth Hormone. Testosterone and the growth hormones production are enhanced during sleep and rest, and suppressed during stress, including the stress of endurance events. A nap within a few hours of activity will increase hormone development essential to rebuilding muscle and recovery. See Natural Ways to Help Increase Testosterone Levels
7. Replenish Nutrients for Natural Red Blood Cell Production. Red blood cell production begins when the kidneys detect low blood oxygen levels. When blood oxygen levels are low, the kidneys produce Erythropoietin, a hormone which starts the formation of red blood cell production. Red blood cell production then relies upon an adequate supply of Iron, Vitamin B12, Folate and Testosterone. After an endurance event, the body needs these nutrients to produce new red blood cells essential to prevent fatigue and deliver adequage oxygen to the cells. For lists of natural food sources of Iron See Iron and Peak Performance
8. Reduce Infammation. There are several ways to reduce inflammation including (i) icing (See Icing Strategies by Chris Harig), (ii) compression garments, (iii) elevation, (iv) massage (See Sports Massage for Performance by Jessica Ippoliti), (v) stretching, and (vi) hydrostatic pressure, where the weight of water (eg. ice baths) reduces inflammation.
10. Active Recovery.. Taking an easy short walk, run, swim, hike, or bike ride is a good way to encourage recovery.
11. Cool Down. Perform a 15 minute cool down at very low intensity immediately after long activity.<-- back to top