Recover Better: What NOT To Do After Hard Training Sessions

In a previous blog post, we discussed recovery tools and techniques to help enhance recovery and your body’s adaptation to challenging workouts (i.e. training stimuli).

However, there are also practices and techniques that hinder recovery. We suggest that you avoid the following:

Hanging out in Public Places—If possible, avoid public places where you might come into contact with someone carrying a cold or flu virus. In the hours after a hard training session, your body’s immune system will be heavily compromised. If you are out in public, use hand sanitizer, don’t touch your face and avoid anyone who you know or believe to be sick.

Standing Up After a Workout—Standing reduces the rate at which blood is able to flow from your lower extremities back to your heart (opposite of putting your feet up or using a compression device). At least for half an hour to an hour, it is best to remain seated, or, better yet, seated with your feet up on the couch or bed at heart level. An easy walk can help recovery, but standing or walking too much negatively impacts recovery.

Being Stressed Out—As much as possible, avoid things that cause you stress like sitting in traffic, arguing with a coworker or significant other or watching the news, which will increase your cortisol levels and hinder recovery.

Drinking Alcohol—Alcohol harms muscle synthesis, causes dehydration, increases cortisol and is a stressor on your immune system and body in general. Even one drink reduces testosterone levels—a hormone your body desperately needs to recover from hard workouts. It’s best to wait a few hours after a workout to have a drink, though any amount of alcohol has a negative impact on recovery.

Eating too Much Junk Food or Empty Calories—As a simple carbohydrate, consuming sugar (ideally within 30 minutes of finishing a workout) is appropriate after very hard sessions to replace depleted glycogen (carbohydrate) stores in the body. However, eating high fat junk food and consuming overly large levels of sugar is not helpful. High fat meals should be avoided in the hour after a hard workout and large amounts of sugar should be avoided starting after 30 minutes out from workout completion.

The caveat to all of the above? In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

Have fun with your training. Approaching recovery or training in general with too rigid of a mindset can be a recipe for disaster. It’s OK (and perhaps even beneficial) to relax and do some of the “wrong” things once in a while when it comes to training and recovery.

Happy recovery!

David

P.S. Need a purposeful training plan that takes the guesswork out of your training and gives you a purposeful structure to reduce risk of overtraining and injury? Check out our training plans for triathlons from sprint to IRONMAN® and running races from 5k to marathon.

david glover headshotCoach David Glover, MS, CSCS has completed 28 IRONMAN distance triathlons, which includes two sub 9 hour finishes and winning Vineman Full twice. David’s passion is helping triathlete and other endurance athletes achieve their dreams through his online triathlon education and training company, ENDURANCEWORKS. David has an MS in Exercise Physiology and is certified as a coach by IRONMAN Triathlon, USA Triathlon and USA Cycling plus has his CSCS from NSCA. After six years of living, training and coaching in the triathlon mecca of Boulder, CO, David currently resides in Southern California.

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