Why You Should Always Recover After a Ride
You just finished a killer ride on the bike. Now what? Training is important but there is another piece to your workout recovery that can make or break your performance results. That piece of the puzzle is recovery.
Recovery is what takes place after training; cool down, stretching, and even sleep all fall under recovery. Recovery is important because it allows the body to restore physiological and psychological processes, so that you can train again at an appropriate level.
Why do I need to recover after a workout?
Recovery allows your body a brief period to reset after strenuous activity. Similar to how you use sun protection when you go outside in the Summer, you need to work in recovery when you workout. They serve the same purpose of protecting your body. Both, a bad sunburn and poor recovery may prevent you from going about your everyday activities because of aches and inflammation. It’s silly to even risk the discomfort when you find out how easy it is to avoid.
Why do I need to recover if I don’t feel sore?
First, let’s define sore. Feeling sore or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) occurs when muscles work harder than they’re prepared to perform. The pain or soreness is a result of your muscles undergoing their repair process. During your workout, when you go a little bit harder for that PR or dominate a long climb, your muscle’s contract which causes microscopic tears along the muscle. As soon as the muscle undergoes the repair process, inflammation begins and electrolytes begin to gather. This is completely normal and is actually how your muscles grow, allowing you to generate more power, build endurance, and take on harder strain.
Even if you don’t feel sore or experience DOMS after a hard workout it does NOT mean your muscles didn’t put in the work. Especially in cycling and running, with long-duration repetitive motions, your lower body puts in a lot of miles. That extended focus on one part of your body can still lead to similar effects of inflammation even without the feeling of physical discomfort. You may feel great after a hard workout - which is great! - but you should always add a post-workout recovery routine to ensure your muscles get primed for taking on their next challenge.
What are the best ways to recover after a hard ride?
As you’ve heard your instructors say several times by now “Make sure to recover after this ride”. They always suggest a cool down and stretch to let your muscles lengthen and recover.
If you recently eclipsed a PR, began Power Zone training, or conquered a 100+ mile weekend, then you know the importance of a good cool down and stretch. Your body temperature and heart rate decrease, your muscles release their tension, and you feel them pull as you stretch.
There are several popular methods of recovery for athletes to try including*:
Along with techniques for physiological and muscular recovery there are other important variables to factor into your total recovery such as:
Recovery should be added to everyone’s post-ride regiment. In order to continue increasing your output, cadence, and resistance you must remain consistent, strong, and fresh. When you push yourself physically many systems are operating at higher than normal levels. Allow them to reset and grow so you can continue to conquer your upcoming milestones.
Stay tuned for more tips, tricks, and techniques about recovery for at-home athletes.
*We’ll dive into each of these recovery methods with tips for at-home athletes so be sure to subscribe to be the first to know!