On the Road to Recovery
One of the most common training errors is training too hard on recovery days, and not hard enough on the "hard" days.
Missing the "glycogen replenishment" window after high intensity training or racing.
As soon as possible, preferably within the first 30 minutes after completing training or racing, begin consuming a recovery drink that includes both carbohydrates and protein. This window gradually closes over time, and usually after 2-3 hours, the ability to replenish glycogen stores drops significantly.
4. Becoming dehydrated.
If you only drink when you are thirsty, odds are you are already dehydrated. Dehydration impairs performance, and you can determine your hydration status by comparing your body weight before and after races and training sessions. Assume that any changes in body weight are due to fluid loss. To prevent dehydration, consume liberal amounts (more than one mouthful) of sports drink at regular intervals (every 15 - 20 minutes) while training/racing, and drink BEFORE you are thirsty. Be sure that your choice of sports drink contains different types of carbohydrates as well as electrolytes (potassium, sodium and magnesium). Be sure to experiment with different concentrations, flavors and brands while training at high intensities BEFORE using during racing. The more you enjoy your beverage of choice, the more likely you are to drink it, and drink it more often.
5. Consider self-massage or professional massage as part of your training regime.
The beneficial effects of massage with respect to recovery are well documented. Professional endurance athletes often receive rubdowns daily, but even one massage per week can have a significant impact on your training. If you can't afford a professional, then consider self-massage. Take 10-20 minutes after a hard race or training session, elevate your legs and begin massaging at the ankles and work your way towards your waist.
6. Consider supplements.
Research on supplementation is growing rapidly, particularly, the use of antioxidants in facilitating recovery. Vitamins E and C have received the most attention, but research into other specific supplements (various herbs, branched chain amino acids, etc.) is ongoing. A multi-vitamin with antioxidants may be a good preventive measure, especially if your diet is suspect in this regard.
7. Monitor morning heart rate, morning body weight, as well as sleep quality and quantity.
As you collect this data, you will begin to see an "ebb and flow" to the variables as you progress through training periods. You will be able to recognize patterns based on your ability to recover (or your inability), and eventually use this information to determine if and/or when you are recovered. If your morning heart rate is elevated, your sleep was compromised, and your morning body weight is low, odds are you need a recovery day, even though you may have a hard training day planned.
By employing the above tactics, increasing your awareness for how you feel when appropriately recovered, and demonstrating flexibility when it comes to taking additional recovery days, you will minimize your training/racing plateaus, keep your motivation high, and find that you race well throughout the season and beyond. Finally, significant performance gains from one season to the next will be the norm, as opposed to the exception, for the