As an athlete you do all of the things regular people do like work, spend time with family and friends, and make sure you generally have clean clothes and all the chores that go along with every day life.
Then, add in some long training hours, a gym session, a physio appointment and whoah, there is isn’t much time left for sleep. Or stretching. Or meditation. Or a massage. Or prepping all your wholesome meals. Or improving your swim technique… or…. ok the list goes on so let’s stop there so you don’t stress out even more.
That is, you need to think like an athlete and treat your body like one. Whether that is a regular gym session to keep the weight off, or if you are training for Ultraman Australia… the sooner you give your body the respect it deserves, the happier it will be.
Which brings me to an absolute favourite topic…. recovery. Your training is done and now you’re rushing off to the next thing… but what you do in the first hour after training is THE most important nutrition step of your day.
Use this time to kickstart repair and recovery with these 4 simple steps:
Timing and quality are the key here. Consuming a good quality protein source within one hour of training will kick-start lean muscle development and will begin your repair process. If you are able to eat a meal, include protein such as eggs with veggies on sourdough. If you are strapped for time an easy to digest protein powder is convenient and transportable – try a Bindi protein shake in the car on the way from a swim to work.
It is also vital to replace carbohydrates in the recovery window as this step will minimise the negative effects of exercise on your immune system, and restore your muscle glycogen stores. Put simply, getting adequate carbs in will reduce the chance of you getting sick. This can be a simple as adding a banana and milk to your protein powder to make a smoothie.
Replace fluids and electrolytes
After exercise you will continue to lose more fluids through sweat and urine, so it is vital to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Monitoring urine colour and volume is a great way to know if you are hydrated – it should always be pale straw coloured.
Stretch, Strength & Sleep
Stretching, yoga, rolling… all these techniques are a vital component of recovery but very often they are overlooked until an injury crops up. Be consistent and include strength training into your routine if you are serious about avoiding injury. And finally sleep – you NEED it. Turn off your phone, make a cup of tea (my favourite is peppermint to aid digestion) and head to bed early if you want to train at your best in the morning.
Once you establish a routine for your recovery, it becomes a regular part of your day and these small consistent efforts will add up to make a remarkable difference. Start with one step at a time… what can I do today to recover better right away? And chances are, you can improve your routine quickly.
Next week in Part three, we will look at nourishing your body… getting the basics right to perform at your best without any diet or restriction. It’s all about adding in the good stuff!