Recovery is the 4th discipline in Triathlon, and it is the secret to building muscle mass. Knowledge about Recovery is growing in amateur sport. There is readily available information in Endurance Sport magazines and websites.
I am changing my Sport participation from Ironman training to playing Football, Tennis and Cycling all in a weekend. These sports are explosive, and power based, rather than pure endurance training.
I know my body will go through a period of readjustment to these sports. Avoiding injury will be important. My goal is to use my knowledge and experience of recovery to enable me to compete in three sports over one weekend, on a regular basis. I want to have enough energy to play each sport, but also get stronger and prevent injury.
Recovery is a key to this plan. I want to recover faster, be stronger and perform at my best. I want to avoid cramp and muscle injuries.
I have divided Recovery in areas; 1. Compression clothing 2. Rehydration 3. Recovery nutrition 4. Ice baths 5. Cool Down
- Compression Clothing
My interest in Recovery has started with Compression clothing. I used these in Ironman training and found them very beneficial. I wore them overnight and when I woke up in the morning my legs felt “fresher” and less painful.
I did an online search of compression clothing. There is a large range of brands to consider. I decided to look at the original compression garment Skins and, a brand I used in Ironman, 2XU. Website reviews of compression garments showed these two brands rated highly.
Best Compression Gear Review – Triathlon Plus | TriRadar.com
Product Review: 2XU Compression Gear
2XU Compression Tights review | road.cc
2XU Elite compression tights review – BikeRadar
The 2XU brand of compression leggings had been researched by the Australian Institute of Sport.
I decided to test 2XU. 2XU had several models to choose from; performance (MCS), recovery and hybrid models. Each model differed by the compression quality of the material each used. The performance leggings were designed to reduce muscle vibration and damage.
I decided to test the performance and recovery leggings.
The body requires electrolytes for normal body function. Read below for facts on recovery by Australian Institute of Sport on Nutrition
The key electrolyte is Sodium
Other important electrolytes are Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium. When we sweat we lose these electrolytes in our body. Sweat cools our body down. When we lose Sodium we retain less water and lose our feeling of thirst. Hence, dehydration is a serious problem. Drinking water is not enough.
When we sweat we lose these electrolytes in our body. Sweat cools our body down. When we lose Sodium we retain less water and lose our feeling of thirst. Hence, dehydration is a serious problem. Drinking water is not enough.
It appears that some electrolyte products do not contain enough Sodium. Coconut water is currently trending as a natural electrolyte replacement. However, It appears commercially sold coconut water is too low in Sodium to be used as an electrolyte replacement drink.
I searched online for the best electrolyte replacement drink for my needs. I came across Nuun (pronounced Noon). Nuun has excellent concentrations of Sodium, K, Mg, and Ca. It also contained Sodium Bicarbonate. Sodium Bicarbonate can, apparently, neutralise some of the effects of Lactic acid. It is low calorie and contains only electrolytes (allowing me to choose my own source of carbohydrate). There are no artificial additives and has natural flavouring.
Another electrolyte product I discovered in my local bike shop (Wild Bikes) was OTE (original owners of SIS nutritional products). OTE also has no artificial flavours and is low in calories, but does not have the Sodium Bicarbonate content, when compared to Nuun.
- Recovery Nutrition
Interms of recovery drink I have used SIS recovery drink in the past. Current versions have 50% more protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes. I compared this product to Sun Warrior protein powder (Vegan). Sun Warrior has significant amounts of protein and very small amounts of carbohydrates. I can see this as a great source of protein I could use after gym training, but not a recovery drink.
My nutritional needs in recovery are 75-105g carbohydrate 15-25g protein
I can see SIS repid recovery drink does not have enough protein. I will therefore look to supplement this drink with a carbohydrate bar/ shot and eat wholefoods at a later date.
4. Ice Baths
There seems to be a debate about the benefits of ice baths. I have seen ice baths used at Wimbledon, professional football and in the Tour De France
There was an interesting article in cyclenews – “cold baths key to Etixx-QuickStep’s Tour de France success”
The bath temperature used by cyclists was 10-12 degrees. They could sit comfortably in them and even fell asleep. Other benefits listed included pain relief, improved lymphatic drainage and cooling of the body.
Andy Murray (professional tennis player) described his routine after his Wimbledon matches. He rehydrated, ate whole foods, got a massage and then had an ice bath.
- Cool down
The other elements of recovery would be active recovery (cooling down with exercise), and stretching. I do light general stretches post match and do more serious stretching 2-3 days after performance. Ballistic stretches before a match is best. I cool down with gradual reduction in activity in the sport I am playing. I could do a light run or cycle.