Some thoughts about recovery …

The faster you recover, the faster you can train again.

Isn’t that what we all want 🤔

Unfortunately, as we age, the longer it takes to fully recover. As a senior athlete (and I use the this term liberally), I know what this means. It means more aches, pains, and the risk of injury.

So, what can we do to expedite recovery?

Here are 5 things I do 🤕

Welcome Rest Days

Rest days are an integral part of a training plan. As we age, the slower we recover, and more rest is necessary. I work 1-2 rest days into every week depending on how I’m feeling. Rest may mean a light active recovery ride and stretch, or it may mean a day off from all physical activity.

Cherish Sleep

I wear an activity tracker with a built in heart rate monitor. I wear the device primarily to monitor my resting heart rate (RHR), and sleeping patterns. If my RHR is elevated, I know I’m not fully recovered. When it is in the low 40’s, I’m rested and ready for an interval workout, or long ride. If it is in the high 40’s or low 50’s, it is time for a rest or recovery ride.

I’m also interested in how much sleep I’m getting, and more importantly, how much “deep” sleep I get each night. I’ve noticed that when I workout regularly, I sleep longer, and better. On average, I get 9+ hours of sleep every night, and 5+ hours of that are considered “deep”. “Deep” sleep is required for proper recovery, and it is recommended that adults get 1.5-2 hours of “deep” sleep every night.

Sleep is not my problem 🛌 I have learned by keeping to a regular schedule, opening the bedroom window year round, and using a firm, memory pillow guarantee a restful, deep sleep.


Eat More Protein

I’m a vegan / vegetarian – mostly vegan but occasionally eat eggs and cheese. As we age, we lose muscle mass. That’s a problem for senior athletes, and why it is recommended we weight train regularly. Muscle is protein, and needs protein to rebuild and grow. In addition to eating a well balanced vegetarian diet, I am trying to eat fish once a week. That sounds easy enough. Right? I know fish is an excellent source of protein. The problem is that I do not like the taste, smell, or texture. Ugh …

This may be difficult to sustain 🐟🤔

Eat Immediately After Workouts

To understand how the right foods can help after exercise, it’s important to understand how the body is affected by physical activity.

When we work out, our muscles use glycogen stores for fuel. This results in muscles being partially depleted, and proteins in the muscles are broken down and damaged.

After a workout, the body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins.

Eating the right nutrients within 60 minutes after exercise helps your body do this faster. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.

Doing this helps the body:

  • Decrease muscle protein breakdown;
  • Increase muscle protein growth;
  • Restore glycogen stores; and,
  • Enhance recovery.

I eat a mixed berry + banana + almond milk smoothie, and a cheese + avocado + tomato + lettuce sandwich on toasted wholewheat bread within 30-60 minutes following a workout. This replaces the expended calories (~ 500), and provides the nutrients necessary to quickly begin the recovery process 🤔

Wear Calf Sleeves

After a long ride, or hard interval workout, I relax with calf sleeves on for several hours in the evening. I used to be sceptical of compression clothing but I like the feeling and warmth of the sleeves, and have noticed a positive difference. Here are several of the reported benefits:

  • Enhanced blood circulation as a result of improved venous return. This means that deoxygenated blood goes back to the heart faster to improve blood flow of oxygen-rich blood back to the body.
  • Faster recovery following strenuous exercise and improved performance, by aiding in the removal of blood lactate through improved circulation.
  • Enhanced warm-up because of increased skin temperature.
  • Reduced muscle oscillation and vibration, providing stability to the muscle preventing micro-trauma, resulting in a faster and easier recovery.
  • Reduced effects of delayed muscle soreness following strenuous exercise by  reducing swelling and inflammation.
  • Increased muscle support which increases performance through improved muscle efficiency.

What do you do to recover? Massage? Cold baths? Stretch?

12 thoughts on “Some thoughts about recovery …

  1. As I get older I can definitely feel myself taking longer to recover. I’m much more focused on proper recovery now. When I was a teenager playing competitive sport my recovery was a big bag of Doritos and a bottle of Coke while watching TV on the couch!

    These days I always throw down a protein/carb shake after hard training, stretch regularly and try for a proper night’s sleep every night (not too good at that). My overall diet is also much better. Do you take any supplements? I’m currently taking fish oil and magnesium tablets, plus sometimes an effervescent multi vitamin in my bidon.

  2. I just don’t go out if I feel I can’t be bothered or I’m feeling very tired or the weather is totally rubbish, usually 1 or 2 days a week. Diet is veggie plus fish, which I love. Relaxation is a hot bath for me, reading a book. Otherwise I just get on with life. Average mileage per week is around 150 miles.

  3. I am 66 – for a few weeks more. Sorry, I had not picked up on your injury. And yes, recovery and healing does take longer for sure. I am currently not running – a recurrent calf tear is back with me. I see the physio today. I no longer stretch before a run, but walk/jog for ten minutes before running and take it easy for a further ten before putting my back into it. On top of that In the last year I have become a convert to Pilates and to foam roller sessions, both on physio’s advice. I exercise for fitness and health, not for performance. Little, often and relaxed would be closest to my hopes for my exercise regime. So I’ll take advice and wait for recovery to come in it’s own time. I am temped to try your tip of the compression leggings however. Even if they are just for warmth. I seem to have taken to compression base layers for warmth like my old dad used to have vests: and to think how I used to scoff! 🙂 I hope you recover soon.

  4. How are you measuring your sleep? I use a Fitbit band, but it’s pretty inaccurate, so I wouldn’t trust it for real training. For example, heartbeat is quite different between Garmin heart band + Edge and Fitbit (not to mention the odd calculation of “steps” when cycling).

    • I use the Garmin VivoSMART+HR activity tracker. It is not as accurate while I train. Then I use a Garmin chest strap. I find the VivoSMART is accurate for resting rate. I have tested my morning resting rate with a blood pressure monitor and get the same results. I like the VivoSMART sleep statistics, particularly the differentiation between deep and regular sleep.

  5. Going back to recovery days I know a few fellow cyclists in my 60’s age group who ride every day one of whom rides 150 mls per week with hardly a day off ever, and he doesn’t appear to suffer with this regime (or so he says) hmm.
    Maybe he’s a freak of nature😉

    • 150 miles / week is a lot. 600 miles (965 km) / month. A lot depends on how hard these miles are. If they are completed at a more relaxed pace on relatively flat terrain they would be easier than at a faster pace on hilly roads. I used to do ~ 1,000 km / month commuting on relatively flat route with several stops along the way.

      I have recently switched to a polarized training regimen – 1-2 hard days and 4-5 easy days. This allows more time to fully recover but still taxes the cardio system.

      I think it’s all about getting the load right, and that is an individual thing. I have also learned that diet and sleep play a major role. Perhaps your friend has mastered all of this.

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