Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Importance of Recovery Days

Time to STP: 114 Days
I think I am not alone as a burgeoning cyclist (or anyone that is working getting in shape) in thinking that the more your exercise, the better you will end up looking.  It seems reasonable.  You go from drinking beer on your couch and watching Dr. Who reruns to hopping in the saddle or in the gym and after some amount of time, you start looking ripped, breathing better and can go longer and longer.  Well, from everything that I have seen, this is only mostly true.  And it is something that I am trying like a madman to realize.
According to this article and many other online resources, a recovery day is just as important as those days that you are exercising.  The whole purpose of those days in which you rest is to give your body a breather, to allow it to mend itself with rest and with the nutrients that you are filling yourself with. 
From the above linked article
            " One of the most common mistake made by the amateur cyclist is over training. In recent     years more and more importance is being paid to recovery by top riders. All too often riders will go out and ride hard at every opportunity which would appear the best way to improve. However it is actually after rides when your fitness will improve when your muscles recover from their workload. Exercise damages muscle tissues creating small tears and it is during the post ride recovery period that they heal and grow back larger and stronger."
In the end, it is in your interest to rest up and not continue to push yourself.  The fear that I have, and I am sure you might as well, is thinking you will "fall off the wagon" and treat every day until the weekend as a recovery day, then try and make it all up on the weekend.  While there is something to be said about high intensity workouts, you do your body more good by being consistent and varying the intensity of your workouts above your comfortable baseline.  Make sure to eat well, and healthy on your recovery day as well.  Treat your body right and you are going to have the energy to push on further the next day.  Here are a couple examples of a good recovery day meals.  Work within it or out of it.  I have discovered that just because you are exercising doesn't mean you now have to eliminate every flavorful thing from your diet.
1 eggs, poached (poaching does not have to be hard )
Whole grain muffin
1 slice low fat cheese (go provolone, great flavor)
Olive oil (drizzle a bit on the muffin)
Diced fruit (don't forget the starchy stuff like watermelon)
1 cup of milk/almond milk

Turkey Sandwich
4 oz turkey breast sliced
2 slices whole wheat bread
2 tsp mayonnaise (or have some fun with this, maybe add a teaspoon of adobo to the mayo, mix it up and give it a spicy flair, alternatively, some pureed cranberries added to this could also give it a more fruity character)
1/2 sliced tomato
shredded lettuce
1 cup milk 1
8 oz glass water

1 fish fillet (marinated in a tablespoon of olive oil, lemon, dash of salt and a few sprigs of fresh basil)
1/2 cup brown rice
1 cup broccoli (steamed)
1 8 oz glass water
Preheat oven to 400, cook fish on a wire rack just until done.
With the rice, you can use minute rice, which is inherently a little more processed.  I recommend just making your typical 1 cup of brown rice and saving that for reheat later (after taking out your 1/2 c portion)

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