Recovery days are often overrated but are crucial to criterium racing because of the repeated high-intensity efforts. These intense efforts can lead to muscle fatigue, soreness, and even injury if a rider doesn't allow their body enough time to recover. Recovery days allow the body to rest and repair, reducing the risk of injury and improving overall performance.
Additionally, recovery days provide an opportunity for athletes to focus on active recovery, such as stretching, foam rolling, or low-intensity exercise, to help alleviate muscle soreness and improve blood flow to the muscles.
But recovery days require as much practice as any key workout. Indeed many athletes train too hard on recovery days, then are unable to train hard enough on hard days. Here are some quick tips about how to make the most of your recovery days.
- Rest: The primary goal of a recovery day is to rest and allow your body to recover. Make sure to keep a low power ceiling for the day and avoid high-intensity exercise.
- Active recovery: Engage in low-intensity exercises like yoga, stretching, or light cardio. These activities help to increase blood flow to your muscles, reduce soreness, and promote recovery.
- Hydrate: Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, can help flush out toxins from your body and aid in recovery.
- Nutrition: Fuel your body with nutritious foods that are high in protein and carbohydrates to help replenish your energy stores and aid in muscle recovery. This is NOT a day to, "eat less because I did less."
- Massage or foam rolling: Massaging or foam rolling your muscles can help to relieve tension and promote circulation, which can help to speed up recovery.
- Sleep: Getting enough sleep is crucial for recovery. Make sure to aim for at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Don't feel it necessary to watch the sunrise, or sunset.
Remember, recovery days can be more important than training days, so make sure to prioritize them in your training plan. By taking the time to rest and recover, you'll be able to perform at your best during your next training session or race.