Do you find that you’re completely incapacitated after your workout and can’t train again for a good few days? One of the worst parts of doing a tough workout is feeling rotten the following day. Even worse is picking up an injury due to not recovering properly and overtraining. Check out these 6 ways to recover better so that you can make the most of your sessions without paying for it the next day.
Eat more protein
If you are an endurance athlete like a triathlete, cyclist, or runner, you will know how important carbohydrates are to your diet. However, are you eating enough protein? A lot of people are aware that you can consume too much protein and that this can lead to weight gain, but many people don’t actually consume enough.
Protein is vital for building and repairing your muscles and by timing your nutrients correctly, you can maximise your recovery. Try adding a hit of protein to your post-workout meal or snack to reduce DOMS in your legs and optimise the recovery process.
Eat more carbs
On the flip side, if your training involves more weight training, you are probably already consuming plenty of protein but perhaps ignoring your carb needs. It is widely accepted that bodybuilders and even powerlifters don’t need as many carbs and live on a high protein, high fat diet instead. This allows the athlete to cut body fat while still increasing strength. However, carbohydrates are still important and can aid in the recovery process just like protein. By taking simple sugars on board during a particularly tough workout, you will replenish your glycogen stores and not only improve your performance during training, but also shorten your recovery period so that you can train more often.
Stretch and foam roll daily
This is the one we all take for granted. It’s very important to make time in your daily routine for at least 10 minutes of stretching and foam rolling every day. Stretching has many benefits including improving flexibility, balance, and reducing stress, but it also reduces your risks of developing an injury. Exercise and sitting at a desk all day shortens the muscles, and tight muscles are more likely to get injured. Stretching will reduce the stiffness in the muscles that you experience when you are achy and it will prevent you from aching while you exercise. For example, if your hips ache when you run, stretching your hip flexors will help this greatly.
Take complete rest days
If you’re on a roll, it can be tempting to skip rest days and keep the momentum going. However, overtraining has many risks associated with it and your rest days are just as important as your training days. Make sure you have at least 1 or 2 days per week dedicated to relaxing and letting your body recover so that you can bounce back better than ever for your next training session.
Be more consistent
If you are a weekend warrior or you are inconsistent with your workouts, you will find it harder to recover. Every time you skip a few workouts, you are almost going back to square one and will lose some of the progress you have worked so hard to gain. By training consistently, your body will become more accustomed to working hard and your recovery times will reduce. Not only will your muscles recover quicker, but so will your heart and lungs, which means getting your breath back quicker and getting back to a steady heart rate quicker too. Try to train consistently by not skipping workouts and increasing your workload gradually so that your body has time to adapt.
Improve your sleep routine
Sleep is the one element of recovery that many people tend to take for granted. Did you know that when you exercise, you are actually breaking your body down, and it is only when you eat and sleep that your cells recover and you end up fitter and stronger than before? Sleep is vital for proper recovery and getting your 8+ hours of good quality sleep will be the difference between taking a week to recover and being able to get back out there the very next day.
If you're as much of a fan of cycling as we are here at Sundried, chances are there'll be a few things we have in common. We take a look at some of the things we do as cyclists that might make us seem mad to outsiders.
1. 5am starts are the norm on a Sunday.
Nothing compares to the peacefulness of a Sunday morning ride. No cars on the road, no pedestrians, just you alone with your thoughts on the open road. Bliss.
2. The road is safer than a bike path.
People stepping out without looking, opening car doors in front of you, and dogs off leads are all potential hazards when cycling on a designated bike path. Sometimes it's just easier to cycle along the road.
3. That split second of panic when your shoe won't unclip.
We've all been there; you're approaching a junction or a set of traffic lights and your shoe just won't budge. I've seen it plenty of times myself where cyclists have had a tumble because of unruly cleats. Just brush it off and pretend no one saw.
4. Watts, VO2 max, FTP, and elevation gains are every day speak.
How many watts did you put down up that hill? What was your max elevation gain? These are all things we love discussing with fellow cyclists which probably make no sense to anyone else and frankly, they probably don't care!
5. You can convert miles to kilometres easily in your head.
Some of your friends prefer miles, some prefer km. Some races use one or the other and now you don't even think twice about converting the distance. Oh you cycled 80km this morning? That's 50 miles, nice!
6. When people talk about going on trips, you wonder if you could cycle it.
Why fly to Amsterdam when you could cycle it in a day! Family holiday to Europe? You bet I'm taking my bike! It took you how long to drive to London? I could cycle it in 2 hours!
7. The hillier, the better.
There's something strangely satisfying about destroying your legs up a 15% incline only to be able to whizz down the other side at 40mph. Oh, sorry, you prefer km? 64kph then.
8. The soreness is worth it.
The curse of the numb bum, achy back, sore shoulders and neck after being on the bike for 5 hours is all worth it for the stunning views, sunrises, sunsets, and spending time with like-minded enthusiasts.
Sundried Ambassador Amber Bullingham gives an insight into how she and her partner juggle middle distance triathlon training with jobs and bringing up two young children, and why she thinks triathlon is of direct benefit to her family.
"How do you do it?"
This is the number one question that I get asked. How do you manage all your training and the kids and work? We all know that triathlon is a very time-consuming sport. Swimming, cycling, running, strength and conditioning, stretching, physiotherapy, bike maintenance, travelling around to get to training sessions – all these take out a big chunk of a typical week. Balancing training an average of 12 hours a week (times two as both my partner and I are keen triathletes) with work and family life is a challenge that requires a lot of skills, but ultimately it brings so much to all our lives.
Here, I write about some of the elements involved in achieving a successful balance and answer what I think is the more important question: is it worth it?
Communication and organisation
Planning and open communication are vital. My partner and I share a fantastic coach who empathises with and works around the demands of family life (trust me, they are not all like this!). Immediately on receiving our sessions, we share them with each other and plan how we will fit it all in and communicate back to our coach if there is anything we cannot do. Rather than a structure that is the same week in week out, we prefer a more dynamic and varied plan, which allows us to both take advantage of group sessions, switch up who has to train late, and swap around family duties (plus, it is a lot more interesting!).
Creativity and flexibility
It can take a fair amount of creativity and flexibility to tick off all the week’s sessions. The running buggy is a great piece of kit for easy runs, and we have embraced indoor biking and the treadmill to allow for evening training/early morning/nap time workouts when the kids are sleeping – sometimes the stars align and we can even train together this way! A home gym set up has been invaluable to help save time. Riding home from work or running/doing S&C at lunchtime are other tools in the efficiency kit. Pre-lockdown, we sometimes used time more efficiently by one running to the pool whilst the other drove the kids then swapped over. And during lockdown, we even rigged up a paddling pool/bungee cord set-up in our back garden so we could keep up some swim practice. We are nothing if not determined!
Compromise and fairness
Triathlon is the sport that brought me and my partner together, so we knew from the outset that it was an important part of both our lives. I think this makes it easier for us to both advocate for our own training and ensure that we are being fair in allocating coveted group training, unavoidable late nights, and occasional sacrificed sessions. One might think it would be easier for just one of a couple to be so into their training, but I disagree – we are both on the same page and this makes it so much easier overall, even if logistically it can be a challenge.
Ring-fencing time for relationships
It would be all too easy to fit all the training we would like to do in by being constantly on the go. But just as it is important to plan training, so it is important to plan time to be together as a family, a couple and individually. On Sundays, we endeavour to get all our training done by early afternoon and spend time all together in the afternoons, for a walk or to see family and friends. We are also able to do dinner and bedtime routines together several nights a week. We have excellent family support which means we can sometimes even train together.
Is it worth it?
The children (aged 3 and 11 months) are our number one priority and making sure they are happy and provided for goes ahead of any of our training. Happily, so far triathlon seems to be beneficial to our family life. The kids get to spend one-on-one time with both of us individually, which I think is important for developing relationships and independence. We are demonstrating to them skills around sharing, compromise, planning, resilience and perseverance. My three-year-old is already directedly interested in what we do – watching races, running around, riding his bike (and probably able to name more parts of it than I can mine!), loving his swimming lessons, and doing his ‘exercises’ – I hope we can inspire them both into a sporting life. And being active and pursuing our goals makes us better parents – stress relief and a feeling of personal fulfilment outside of work or family life is incredibly important.
So, my answer to the question, Is it worth it?: emphatically, yes!
Top tips for successfully balancing triathlon, work and family:
- Plan, plan, plan! But be flexible and realistic that plans often must change
- Get a coach to take off the extra work of figuring out training and to keep you accountable
- Utilise efficient ways to fit in training: buggy running, commuting, lunch breaks, early mornings/late nights/nap times
- Communicate and compromise with your partner, whether they are an athlete or not
- Ring-fence family, couple and individual time
- Don’t try and do it all – you can do anything, but not everything!
About the author: Amber Bullingham is a runner turned Age-Group triathlete returning to training and competition after having her second baby.
A quality training plan brings structure, routine, and accountability to your training. Removing the guesswork from each training session, allowing all your effort to be focused on training, rather than having to think about what exercises to do next. At its core, a training plan is a detailed roadmap outlining every aspect of training required to improve performance and achieve a specific goal.
Track Workout Analytics and Progression
Tracking your workout analytics (weights, lifts, run times etc) is critical to progressing in your training and staying motivated. Seeing continued progression is arguably the largest factor in staying motivated and energised when following a training plan. However, without tracking the analytics of each workout, it’s impossible to say with certainty whether you're progressing in your training or not.
At a minimum, the key analytics to track are your performance for each of the plans assigned exercises (weights, reps, distances, times etc). Venturing further, additional factors to track could include; time of training, mindset/energy level and technique observations.
There are a few tools that can be used to help improve the efficiency of logging your workout analytics. For resistance-based training revolving around weightlifting, the app FitNotes provides an intuitive interface for logging sets combined with graphical displays to visualise progress over time. Alternatively, an old-fashioned logbook and pen can be just as effective – it all depends on personal preference.
For distance/time-based training, there is a multitude of popular apps/smart devices that can be worn during training to measure distances, times, heart rate etc. A few popular options include Strava, Google Fit and RunKeeper. The key point is to find and use a method of tracking that works for you, be it a logbook, app or wearable device.
Tracking your workout analytics should be efficient and not serve as a distraction from your training. It’s worth experimenting with a few options to find what works best for you.
Plan When You're Going To Train
A quality training plan has been designed with thought and purpose, every single session builds into your development over the course of the plan. With this in mind, it’s important to set time aside and plan when you're going to train. This aids massively in staying consistent and committing to the plan, it shouldn’t be a surprise or a last-minute decision to train, it should have been scheduled in advance.
Planning your training session in this way is ultimately freeing, allowing you to schedule in other important aspects of your life, to ensure there’s no conflict with your training that could set you back.
Train With A Partner
Training with a partner is a great way to stay accountable when following a plan and provide a boost in motivation during sessions. Additionally, having an element of healthy competition during training can help give that extra push when the session is getting tough, with each party holding the other accountable.
A good training partner is not just someone who can help motivate you, but a critical eye to watch over your technique and form whilst training. The best training partners are those that are honest about your performance and can offer constructive methods on how to improve, be that in event preparation, technique, nutrition, or recovery. A training partner should be an asset that helps get the best out of you and the plans programming.
Good nutrition is essential to ensure recovery from previous training sessions. Your results from training are only as strong as your recovery afterwards, of which your nutrition plays a critical factor. However, finding time to cook after weekday sessions can at times be problematic. It only takes a late finish at work, or an unexpected commitment to find yourself short on time to prepare and cook a nutritious meal.
Preparing your meals in advance is an effective way to combat any potential obstacles to your nutrition and recovery. Typically conducted at the end of the week, meal prepping consists of bulk cooking a large quantity of food, to then be portioned into separate meals to consume throughout the week. If you’re not keen on the thought of bulk cooking yourself, and are prepared to pay a premium, there are companies that offer a done-for-you meal preparation service delivered to your door.
Stay Committed and Consistent
A quality training plan isn’t a guaranteed promise of results, it requires determination, commitment and consistency to improve athletic performance. It does, however, provide a clear roadmap on the training required to reach your goals, removing the guesswork from training and keeping you accountable. Following a training plan is a long-term commitment, it’s important to appreciate it’s a journey, one that will require time and effort.
The key to getting the most out of your training plan lies in focusing on small continuous improvements throughout the duration of the plan, all of which will build into large improvements over the lifetime of the training plan.
About the author: Alexander Nowak is the founder of Workout Depot, an online platform for PTs to sell their training plans. He is a keen surfer and weightlifter.
Megan is a personal trainer who has completed some impressive challenges for charity. She talks to Sundried about life in fitness.
Please tell us about sporting events you have taken part in or have coming up.
I used to compete in volleyball representing the East Midlands. Our volleyball team came 3rd in the UK championships. I have also taken part in Beach Volleyball championships, for 2 years, down in Sandbanks.
I have done two 'Help for Heroes' charity fitness events - one event was completing 5 sprint distance triathlons in 5 days and the other was completing a triathlon with the equivalent distance of London's Marble Arch to Paris' Arc De Triomphe. This was done at a fitness complex and I took part in running and cycling laps of a running track and swimming lengths of the pool.
I have also completed the 40-mile Lyke Wake Walk in the North Yorkshire Moors.
The goal I am working towards currently is the Manchester marathon in October 2020.
Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?
I have been very interested in sports and fitness from an early age. I represented my school, both primary and secondary, in their sports teams for football, athletics, tag rugby, rounders, cricket, tennis, table tennis and cross country. In each of these sports the team came within the top 3. In the individual sports, I came first, in the majority.
I have many medals and trophies. I was the only girl playing football for a local boys team in a Sunday League. I played for 5 years in various positions, but mainly defence. I was often the "Man of the Match", and again I gained many trophies.
I also used to take part in summer school sports teams organised by Nottingham Forest Football Club, playing football, and getting the "Top Banana" and "Man of the Match" trophies.
At Secondary School, I took part in a tennis tournament, getting through to the district championships at Nottingham Tennis Centre, where I came first. I also did ice skating to Gold Level, and swimming to Platinum Level.
In 2014, I went into Post 16 and did Uniformed Services for 2 years finishing with a Distinction*. Through the Uniform Services course, I gained my understanding of fitness and how certain training styles and correct nutrition can have an impact on the body. This is where I did the two challenges for Help for Heroes, and two Lyke Wake Walks. I have also taken part in a charity event at East Midlands Airport organised by a local gym, where in relays we had to lift the equivalent to a 747 jumbo jet. The team lifted 183,000 kgs in 3 hours 47 minutes. I have also taken part in a Tough Mudder and Rough Runner, managing to get up the Travelator on my first attempt.
What are your training goals now?
To complete the Manchester Marathon in October 2020, within a goal finish time of 4 hours 30 minutes.
Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:
I have some unusual tattoos, including Donald Duck, a Toy Story Alien and a slice of lemon.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
Not to over train and have recovery days. I now understand the importance of a recovery day. I was playing volleyball to a high level and cross country for a running club, training every day without any recovery days. I suffered a back injury, which required me to have an MRI Scan. Fortunately, I now understand these two important factors, and I have since been injury-free.
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?
I don't follow a specific nutrition plan, although I am very aware of the benefits of healthy eating and keeping well hydrated. I keep a close eye on my caloric intake and exercise to burn off calories. On a daily basis I typically have porridge oats with fruit for breakfast; tuna, couscous and salad for lunch; late afternoon snack of a piece of fruit; then salmon, jacket potato and mixed vegetables for my evening meal. I also drink 2 litres of water throughout the day.
What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated?
When a client is struggling/finding the going is getting tough, I join in to motivate them and reassure them with lots of encouraging words and praise that they can get it completed. I also tell them to think of the end result, and the feeling of accomplishment afterwards.
Talk us through your training regime.
My current training regime is:
Monday - Steady 4/5 miles run at around 9:15-9:25/mile pace.
Tuesday - Sprints at 6:30-7:00/mile pace, following a decreasing structure of 1 mile, 800m, 400m, 200m and repeat starting with the 200m working back upwards to the 1 mile to finish with 90 seconds rest between each set.
Wednesday - 60-minute full body workout/strength training using a resistance band.
Thursday - A recovery day with 30 minutes of stretching and foam rolling.
Friday - short run of 5km at 8:00-8:30/mile pace or 2 mile warm up at 10/mile pace followed by 10 x 100m hill sprints and 2 mile cool down at 10:00/mile pace.
Saturday - A recovery day with foam rolling.
Sunday - A long run aiming for 9/10 miles at 9:30-9:45/mile pace.
How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?
Online blogs, keep in touch with other fitness instructors, online research.
What are your top 3 trainer tips?
- Focus on my own goals and my clients' goals.
- Motivational skills.
- Enjoyable classes, to keep clients motivated and happy.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
King prawn linguine.
What do you like about Sundried?
I love the ethical ethos and the fact that some of the products are made out of recycled plastic bottles and some of the tops are biodegradable. This is the way forward to protect the environment. Even with the ethical ethos behind the clothing it is sharp, stylish and functional.
Favourite fitness quote:
"Pain is weakness leaving the body."