The rules of disengagement

November 29, 2012

The easiest thing for me to do… as a triathlon coach… cycling instructor and even a yoga teacher…. would be to get people to commit physical suicide. I don’t….. but it would be the easiest thing to do. I can count on one hand how many times…. in 8 years of coaching…. that I have had to tell an athlete to go harder. 95% of what I do is hold people back, and save them from themselves.

It’s human nature, athlete nature to work as hard as possible. I fall victim to it myself. Through experience … you learn. Then when you think you know…. you learn a little more.

Working with Jesse and QT2 Systems both as an athlete and a coach taught me more about recovery than i ever thought was possible. Last week Jesse reminded me that athletes should aim to spend half of their training volume engaging in recovery tools. HALF. That means if you train 20 hours a week, 10 of those hours should be spent on: juicing, stretching, resting, sitting in your Normatec Boots (I can’t afford them either). TEN HOURS. For us age groupers and for professionals who work… that’s pretty near impossible.

What are recovery modalities? How can those of us who don’t have the luxury of ten hours a week to spend on recovery maximize our recovery time….. maximize our recovery time? Where there is a will there is a way. While we might not hit ten hours, it doesn’t mean that we can’t squeeze something out of nothing.

1. Nutrition: By far nutrition is the easiest way to assist in recovery. Nutrition is also a choice, remember that. Here are some ways nutrition can help recovery:

  • Juice once a day using veggies you don’t normally eat, and ones that have anti inflammatory properties. Kale, ginger, and beets are excellent for juicing and excellent for recovery.
  • Follow every workout with a recovery drink such as Endurox, or Chocolate milk to replace carbohydrate and protein stores. Every single workout. Other good post workout foods are raisins, grape juice and egg whites.
  • Fish Oil. Long term use of DPA/EHA 1000 mg fish oil (more for some athletes!) has been shown to be beneficial in assisting with inflammation. Long term use is the key.

2. Body work: We have a bucket in our living room filled with foam rollers, tennis balls, straps, sticks and the like. While it may raise a few eye brows when people walk in and see these contraptions…. if you are an athlete you get it. Taking 15-20 minutes a day on the living room floor to self message, stretch and roll is cheap, and easy to do. If I have time to do it, then so do you. Here is a good site to help you learn foam rolling techniques.

3. Recovery efforts in training: You know my rule on the bike: HR and Watts under 100. When I do recovery rides at the gym on the spin bike I wear a sweatshirt. If I sweat I am going too hard. When running prepare, when doing a true recovery effort to be running 10-11-12 minute miles. Some of our best runners here at QT2 (3 hour marathoners off the bike) run 12 minute miles on recovery days. Don’t tell us it isn’t possible. Slow down. Recovery efforts like these enhance recovery by increasing blood flow ever so slightly to help carry the waste product of our harder efforts away. That’s real layman…. but you get my drift.

4. Normatec Recovery Boots: I have used these, and I believe in their effectiveness. I can not afford them either. When we have things like camp and special QT2 gatherings where they are available… I use them. If you can afford them they are invaluable in the recovery process. Click here to check them out.

5. Compression gear: While this is all the rage in triathlon…. we have been using compression stockings in hospitals for years. Compression stockings are used for patients post operatively who are bedridden and inactive. They have been found to decrease the likelihood of blood clot development along with sequential compression devices….. or SCD’s. Similar to the boots mentioned above.People who had to stand or sit long time frames also found them useful because it prevents the pooling of blood in the legs.

According to this site, which is a great resource…..  “In terms of improving performance during a race, the idea is that if increased venous blood flow can occur, more by-products that are transported by the blood can be flushed out and cleared better. If these products that can cause fatigue are gotten rid of quicker, then performance improves. In terms of recovery after a race, the idea is similar. If we can increase venous blood return, you’re going to get back to homeostasis much quicker.”

I like the way compression socks feel when out of training. I like the compression sleeves because I don’t like socks or the feet of socks. Check out Zensah’s awesome selection right here.
There are many more additional ways you can promote and enhance recovery in your training. I could go on for pages. The bottom line…. it’s important. it’s what allows to higher performances and bigger efforts to be reached. The hard work is important, but as we say here at QT2….. hard days hard … easy days easy. Take the time to reward your body and your body will reward you back.


One comment

  1. Great article Mary!

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