Do pro triathletes take an "off" day??? I do!!
Does this mean I simply take the day off training and load up with non-triathlon related chores? No, it does not! (Although this wasn't always the case!) And I do witness this behaviour in a lot of athletes. Like I did, they view an off-day as the perfect time to get caught up on anything and everything that they have been putting off while training has been a priority. But this is a HUGE mistake. Even though this is still giving your body a break from physical activity, you aren't actually going to recover properly. This isn't just my philosophy, there is some science behind it to! If you are loading up on non-training related chores, then you are going to be somewhat stressed. And stress is known to cause the release of hormones that actually cause muscles to breakdown. So, this is why I am as lazy as possible on my recovery days!
Here are my top 4 tips to ensure that you are getting the most out of your recovery day:
1. Eat healthy foods. Before or after a workout is the best time to eat simple sugars, but on recovery days, try to limit your consumption of processed and junk foods. Instead, load up on dark green leafy veggies, complex carbs, protein, healthy fats, etc.
2. Relax. Do things that are low-stress and enjoyable. I like to sleep-in, read, watch movies or TV shows, take a PJ day, write a blog post :), grab lunch or coffee with friends (sometimes in my PJs!). If this isn't possible, because of other commitments like work or family - then try to schedule your recovery days so that they coincide with a low-stress work day or on a day when the whole family can relax with you (does that ever happen!?).
3. Actively recover. Do all the things you are supposed to do to promote recovery: wear compression socks (like Swiftwick compression socks!), get a massage or see your chiropractor for an adjustment, drink lots of fluids (water, not beer!), go for a short walk to get the blood flowing in your legs, spend at least 30 to 45 minutes stretching or doing a type of restorative yoga.
4. Get a good night's sleep. When you are sleeping your body produces hormones that help to rebuild the muscles that you have just broken down as part of the training process. Getting enough sleep is probably the most important thing you can do to facilitate recovery. So if you can't do anything else, try to make sleep a priority.
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