Pelofondo Recovery Guide - 6 Tips for a Successful Endurance Ride
On average, more than 80% of riders in a 30 minute cycling class will complete over eight miles. The top 5% of riders in the same 30 minute workout can travel over 11 miles.
How long would it take you to reach 100 miles? A majority of riders will finish somewhere between 5-6 hours. Pelofondo provides the opportunity to test your endurance abilities in an organized fashion.
What is Pelofondo?
Pelofondo is a community event for Peloton Riders, focused on long distance mileage. It’s your chance to ride like a road cyclist alongside thousands of other riders. Pelofondo is a virtual take on a Gran Fondo, a long distance road cycling event popularized in Italy.
If you’ve ever been interested in testing your distance and endurance abilities this is the event for you. 20% of participants complete over 100 miles over the course of the weekend. Some eclipsing 200, 300, and even 500+ miles!
Endurance is a commitment of distance that requires smart planning in regards to training, nutrition, and recovery. As with any endurance event, proper strategies are essential for a successful ride and to avoid feeling like spaghetti legs the following days.
Your Pelofondo Recovery Plan
As we mentioned, nutrition and training play a large role in your Pelofondo performance. However, the post-ride might be the most important part of your experience. If you’re not accustomed to riding long distances, then putting 35+ miles on (which can be up to 7x your usual daily amount!) may have an exhausting effect on your muscles.
We strongly recommend having a keen focus on your recovery before beginning your day in the saddle. Understanding the importance of proper post-ride recovery such as a cool down and an extended full body stretch can pay major dividends on how you feel later.
We also recommend using recovery products such as the Panache Muscle Recovery Rub which was designed for at-home cyclists, runners, and athletes. Other post-workout recovery tactics that can and should be used include percussion therapy, electric stimulation, and refueling with proper nutrition.
Here are some specific tips to help your body recover to avoid muscle soreness and have you continuing to progress with your fitness goals.
1. The Cool Down is Trending
You hear it towards the end of every hard class. “Make sure to take 5 minutes to cool down.” Why are top trainers promoting a five minute spin? Because a proper cool down should assist in your body’s repair process.
Throughout your workout, your legs naturally build up with blood and metabolic waste including lactic acid and hydroxyproline. Implementing a 5 to 15 minute cool down allows your body to flush out these waste products. Flushing out your legs allows the blood to recirculate and remove these waste products.
If you were to complete your endurance ride and stop exercising suddenly, with no cool down, your heart rate will slow abruptly and blood can pool in your lower body causing dizziness.
So, when you finish your 35, 50, 100+ mile Pelofondo ride make sure to tack on a 15 minute cool down before unclipping. Your body will thank you!
2. Stretching - The Not-so-Hidden Secret
Remember the good old days when you would have to hold a 10 second quad stretch in gym class and jump around so you wouldn't fall over? Just me?
Stretching is a key part to any fitness routine. Like dessert, it’s the perfect way to cap off a great workout session. During workouts, your muscles contract; stretching gives your muscles a chance to lengthen. Stretching post-ride allows the individual muscle fibers to slowly lengthen, allowing those muscles to return to their full length potential. Over time, these repeated stretches will increase your flexibility and mobility, a benefit that goes far beyond the usual definition of being able to touch your toes without bending your knees.
Stretching is crucially important after cycling because of the repetitive spinning motion. Cyclists primarily produce force only as muscles are shortening. That is because a pedal stroke doesn’t use the complete range of motion of the hip, knee, or ankle. In addition, the natural forward-leaning cycling position encourages shortening of hip flexors and tightening of chest muscles. Cyclists who stretch to preserve greater range of motion through the hips, knees, and lower back tend to have less cycling-associated pain and are more able to maintain effective training plans.
We’ve established that stretching is an important part of a complete training program. Your muscular system isn’t the only beneficiary from post-workout stretches. Stretching also helps promote blood flow, which delivers oxygen and nutrients to the tired muscles that you just worked hard on. When you stretch, you can expect less muscle soreness (DOMS), more flexibility, and an overall sense of relaxation and calmness.
3. Nutrition - Avoid the BONK
Post-ride nutrition recovery is all about replenishing lost nutrients. After a long ride like the Pelofondo, your body needs time to return to its optimal physiological state. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as downing a protein or sports drink. Post-ride nutrition recovery is a process that takes time and a few steps to do correctly.
During an endurance ride you burn a combination of glycogen and fats. Research shows there is a 30-minute timeframe after completion for you to begin your recovery. These 30 minutes are also known as the glycogen window. A quick and convenient way is to have a drink ready that contains carbohydrates to provide the necessary fuel so you don’t bonk post-ride (it can include protein as well to help with muscle repair).
Bonking is a cycling term for hypoglycemia. Bonking is not what you want on event day. Bonking means you haven’t refueled with enough carbohydrates and have exhausted your body's glycogen stores leaving you with low blood glucose levels. In short, your blood sugar drops to a point where you hit a wall. Make sure to refuel properly. Don’t bonk!
After an hour or two following your ride you should eat a real meal. This meal is critical to replenish your carbohydrates stores used during exercise and provide amino acids and fats to help build and repair muscles. You’ll want to focus on lean protein such as chicken, tuna, or tofu in addition to complex carbohydrates such as whole grain pasta, rice, sweet potatoes and some healthy fats like avocado. Proper post-ride nutrition allows your body to return to it’s normal physiological levels helping you get on with your day and the days ahead.
4. Hydration - Drink, Sweat, Repeat
Sweat puddles in bedrooms, living rooms, and basements have become a global standard for physical achievement. How should you go about replenishing your lost fluid and avoiding dehydration?
Staying hydrated is one of those things we take for granted, but for serious riders, proper hydration can be a significant advantage in overall performance. Professional cyclists prefer to drink as much as possible before a ride to overcompensate for fluid and sweat loss during a ride because a cooler body temperature allows for better performance.
During your Pelofondo endurance ride you should focus on staying hydrated with small amounts every 10-15 minutes. Drinking too much during a ride can backfire and cause cramps so be sure to sip in moderation.
For long distance endurance events like Pelofondo, it’s important that your hydration aids in the repletion of carbs and electrolytes. Be sure to have your sports tablets, electrolyte drinks, and coconut waters easily accessible. Electrolyte drinks help replenish nutrients and salt lost in your sweat. Without electrolytes you may be more susceptible to muscle cramping due to low sodium levels.
5. Recovery Tools - Not Just for the Pros
The fitness revolution is upon us! Trainers are a part of our family, fitness equipment is scattered around your home, and the focus on recovery has become a priority for the everyday athlete.
Recovery allows your body a brief period to reset after strenuous activity. Similar to how you use sun protection when you go outside for an extended period of time, recovery tools and supplements can help restore physiological and psychological processes so that you can train again at an appropriate level. Both, a bad sunburn and poor recovery may prevent you from going about your everyday activities because of aches and inflammation.
There are several popular recovery tools that we can dive into that will help with your Pelofondo recovery.
Foam Rolling:They’re big, small, orange, pink, bumpy, ridged, and they even vibrate. Foam rolling is a popular pre- and post-workout for cyclists and committed athletes. More needs to be studied on the benefits of foam rolling, but it is believed that improves circulation which in turn can reduce muscle soreness.
Muscle Relief Topicals:
If Pelofondo is your marathon, then you are most likely surpassing your usual strain thresholds. That may lead to some inflamed muscles, especially if they weren’t given an extended training and prep period. Even if you don’t feel sore muscle relief topicals can be used proactively to decrease muscle inflammation. Topicals provide a fast acting, long lasting, and immediate solution to pain relief. Most topicals use a combination of menthol and a combination of oils such as eucalyptus and lavender. Topicals provide a great and proactive way to target specific muscle groups and aid against DOMS.
A newer ingredient to be added to muscle relief topicals is CBD. CBD or cannabidiol is derived from the hemp plant and may provide an increased remedy for muscle inflammation because of the natural receptors already within your body, specifically your endocannabinoid system.
Compression:A nice squeeze to refresh your muscles may not sound like a recovery tactic, but it’s believed that compression helps increase blood flow and decreases muscle fatigue after exercise. With increased circulation, more deoxygenated blood and lactic acid will get back to the heart quicker which will increase the rate of recovery and reduce soreness.
Percussion Therapy:The percussion massager might be the recovery tool that made post-workout recovery pop in 2020. Percussive therapy provides accelerated bursts of pressure into the tissue of your body. The rapid bursts help muscles loosen which can reduce stiffness, increase blood circulation, and prevent DOMS. Percussion Massagers are your personal deep tissue massage when your masseuse isn’t handy.
6. Sleep - The Timeless Recovery Requirement
We’ve all heard how important it is to get your 8 hours of sleep a night. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but how important is clocking in the ZZZ’s each night for an athlete?
Actually, it's extremely important, maybe the most important of this list - and we even talked about bonking!
Sleep offers several benefits to athletes. When you go down for the night is when your body begins to restore itself. During deep sleep, your body secretes growth hormones that are critical in muscle building and repair. At the same time, your muscles relax and relieve tension leading to a lower likelihood of discomfort or soreness in the morning.
Beyond muscle repair, sleep is vital for your body to operate at athlete levels. Improper sleep or sleep deprivation can lead to changes in appetite, increase the likelihood of illness, decrease cognitive function and mental health, increase daily exhaustion, and affect training performance. Missing out on sleep has many more negative effects that can not only mess with your fitness progress, but your everyday life. So make sure to turn off Netflix and start counting your sheep, especially leading up to and DEFINITELY after your Pelofondo ride.
We’ve laid out some tips and tools to aid in your post-workout recovery. Whether you’re riding 35, 50, or 100+ miles, it’s important to give yourself the necessary time to cool down and recover for your body to recalibrate. Never let your workout stop you from your next and throw you off your routine.
We only have one body, so make sure to take care of yours.
Recover today, perform tomorrow.
Follow @ridepanache for more recovery education
Good luck & Recover well!
Founder of Panache Performance, Muscle Recovery for Pelofondo Riders