Riding an epic ride or race takes a big toll on the physical and mental state. After a massive ride, one feels tired, exhausted, fatigued and maybe even in pain.
1. Recovery starts during the ride. Getting enough fluids and food during the ride will make the recovery process so much faster. Electrolyte and other powdered drinks make my stomach upset and can be easily over-consumed so I keep hydration to plain water or fruit juices and coke if available.
The key for my food intake is to listen to the body. I eat when I am getting hungry (contrary to what is said that you should eat before you are hungry). But I also dont wait until I am starving, I know my cues when I need to eat. (Food and fluid intake is a very personal choice; but the above said works for me). For example, during the Everesting I was constantly craving pizza. At Jam for Jamieson, I couldnt say no to the home-made cookies and the fruit cake.
2. Right after the epic ride:
I eat whatever I feel like but try to stick to real food. This is not the time to start a diet. Still, I try to keep the sugar content low as it suppresses the immune system. I will carry now a water bottle wherever I am going and remind myself to keep drinking.
If it was a hot ride, I try to immediately cool myself down – jumping in the water, taking a sink shower, etc. The body takes an immense amount of energy to keep the body temperature constant. By helping the body to get to the desired body temperature, it can focus faster on muscle recovery .
3. The next 24 hours:
With a suppressed immune system the following 24 hours are key. Eating good food (especially lean protein), sleeping as much as possible and staying in a quiet place with as little external stress (overcrowded places, cleaning supplies, sun exposure) will give the body the rest it needs to get out of the “emergency” stage. Not only physically but it is also good for the mind, especially when it was a mentally fatiguing ride. If I am not in too much pain, I might do super light stretches.
4. Two days after: Depending on how I feel, I will try to get out for a ride two days after the event – and that as slow as possible. Either by myself or with a friend who understands I will be super slow. The goal of the ride is to feel fresher at the end than in the beginning. The chosen route should be somewhat flat and should not require accidental power spikes. At the end of the ride I evaluate whether I need more rest or if I can get back to my normal training regime.
Although everyone has different recovery strategies, I wanted to share mine so it might help someone to recover quicker.