Rest and recovery are critical for recreational cyclists. Even if your ride isn’t fast but if it exceeds two hours, treat your body like it was a hard ride to speed recovery.
Failure to recover adequately will grind you down to the point where your performance plateaus or even declines because you’ve built up chronic fatigue. You need to rest adequately between rides and give yourself a week out of the saddle every few weeks.
We’ve put together a few tips to maximize your rest and recovery rate.
Take Care of Those Muscles
Cyclists use muscles that aren’t used regularly in daily life. You’ll feel tightness and soreness in your muscles much quicker than you did in high school. This is because muscles and surrounding tissues lose elasticity as we age. Sore muscles are usually damaged.
Do some stretching, apply sports balm, get into a sauna or a hot tub or just take a long soak in your bathtub. Take an anti-inflammatory drug if you need to.
Curing muscle soreness over the long term is straightforward. Gradually increase your strength and endurance. Don’t go overboard on any ride or you’ll pay for it. Stretch and warm up prior to your ride and make sure you incorporate a cool down regime when you’ve finished your ride. A cool down phase will flush your legs, allow your heart rate and metabolism to return to normal, which will help you sleep.
Cycling drains your body of nutrients stored in your muscles. After a ride, go for carbohydrates and proteins (4:1 ratio) to repair your depleted muscles. Chocolate milk is your best go-to recovery beverage as it contains the perfect ratio. Bonus - it’s also delicious and will help you sleep.
Limit the Alcohol
Many cyclists like to enjoy a brew or two after a ride. Limit your consumption to no more than two drinks because alcohol interferes with your sleep rhythms.
Many cyclists have trouble falling asleep the night following a ride. Thoughts of the ride are streaming through the mind as you toss and turn, hoping for shut-eye. So how can you shut your rambling mind off?
Go to bed at the same time every night. Stick to a bedtime routine, as this sends signals to your body that sleep time is approaching. Make sure your bedroom is dark and cool.
A couple of hours before bed, dim your lights and turn off your t.v., laptop and devices. They all emit light that is counterproductive to rest. You don’t need all the stimulation they provide before sleep. Instead, keep a book by your bed. Attach a small reading light to the book so that your brain doesn’t go into the high alert mode that overhead lights invite. You’ll likely find yourself nodding off after a few pages.
If you’re still tossing and turning try progressive relaxation. Use your mind to relax your entire body, starting with the tips of your toes and working on up.
Try to avoid napping during the day or eating just before you go to bed. Both of this activities are sleep disruptors.Happy cycling! Pay attention to your rest and recovery cycles so that you can perform at your best.