Recovery is well discussed as necessary for top performance in an endurance athlete, but I believe it is really misunderstood (by me too!). There are many methods and ideas on how to best recover from hard sessions and most boil down to rest and a bit of movement to get the natural recovery process going. Rest is seen as the key for many people and I don’t disagree. There is one area that I feel may complement rest and the other physical recovery methods, and that is nutritionally focused methods.

This summer I suffered a torn calf muscle that prevented me from running and riding for several weeks (mainly running for around 12 weeks). Upon returning from that injury, I not only took things a bit easy running to prevent a re-injury, I also focused heavily on the nutritional needs for ensuring I did not overstress or harm my weaker muscles and connective tissues. In my exploration, I came across a friend who was using a system called EnduroPacks, which included a multivitamin, amino acid patches, an electrolyte spray and glutamine. The idea behind the system was to provide not only a slightly differently delivery of key nutrients, but also a complete system that ensured the body was sufficiently supported. It eliminated the haphazard way of taking nutritional recovery supplements. I decided to experiment with a month supply of this system and chose the post injury build up to the XTERRA USA Championships. I knew that I had to push myself hard to regain the lost fitness and speed from my time dealing with my injury, and I also knew that pushing too hard or not recovering well enough would result in new injuries. It was tight balance that was supported by the EnduroPacks system, and throughout the month, I felt good on each of my hard or quality sessions, and found that I could train frequently without overstretching. I also focused on the physical aspects of recovery, which are just as critical. What I observed was my body able to handle an increasing load on a fairly weak foundation (short term one).

As an example, the week of the XTERRA USA race, I decided to train more than I would on most normal race weeks, because I needed to keep building my fragile swim stroke, and I wanted to memorize the bike course so I could take big risks on the descents and really know how to attack the climbs. In that week I rode the course 3 times, ran it twice and swam each day. Each of those three rides included all the climbs and more from the racecourse as well as added bits to work my technical skills and overall training impact. I had some hesitation at doing this fairly big week with only a 48-hour window of real rest, limited training and quality nutrition.

During the week, I awoke each day feeling quite good and refreshed and each ride and run seemed as good as the prior, with no increasing training fatigue. By Friday of that week, I knew I would ride a good race and felt really good. The outcome was a mystery as it always is, but I felt good and ready to attack the day. After a decent swim (always tough for me to swim well at altitude), I rode past most of the field who were in front of me within the first 5 miles of the race (all uphill via a rocky loose fire road and then singletrack). By the time I crested that first climbing section, I saw almost no one the rest of the bike course. I have never caught the faster swimmers so quickly and I had a good feeling for the last part of the race. Coming into transition, I saw only pro bikes and knew the day was going better than I expected with such a short build period. The run was tough, but no one came past me and so my finish was my best in the race and put me on top of my age group and in 4th overall amongst all the amateurs. My bike split was top 15, including the pro field (2nd overall amateur) and my run was 2nd fastest in my AG and 5th overall amongst the amateur field. What a surprise considering only a month prior, I was unable to run.

In looking back, the real difference, in this return from injury process, from others in my past, was the nutritional recovery focus, and I am very pleased with how well it worked for me, and look forward to using this on the road to Kona in 2015.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *