Thomas: Q’s from twitter: Recovery 101

Next up from my twitter questions comes from Ilkka Tawast (@IlkkaTawast ) who would like to know how I make sure I am recovered from races and tough workouts. I am particularly happy to answer this question because I see way too often that athletes don’t understand the importance of being properly recovered from hard efforts. Inevitably, not allowing for proper recovery will come back to haunt an athlete usually in the form of injuries, poor performance, and a lack of consistent development.


Recovery first and foremost starts with having a good routine. This starts with proper fueling before training and racing. If you start a hard training session with an empty gas tank, you will only further deplete your stored energy and have a more difficult time recovering. When you are in training, don’t try to be that guy who goes 200km on two water bottles and a banana. Get easily digestible foods into your system on a regular basis. How much and what depends on your body size and your stomach’s preference for foods. Some people can eat pretty much anything and not have stomach problems while others can only manage bananas. But keeping a regular eating schedule is very important in not getting your energy stores depleted too much. Depending on your body size, a good starting place is to eat for example, ½ banana every 30 minutes.


Paired with food intake must be adequate hydration to avoid becoming dehydrated. If running out of energy is bad (bonking), getting dehydrated is twice as bad and can affect your recovery for up to three days after. Learning how much your body needs to consumer both for calories and for liquids is very important.

The chocolate milk window (Glycogen Window)

Immediately following training there is a 20-minute window, in which glycogen supplies (energy stored in muscles) can be quickly refilled, and that has a large impact on recovery. The ideal recovery drink is approximately 3 parts carbohydrate to 1 part protein. Simple carbohydrates are best as they are most quickly absorbed and while whey protein is generally recommended as the protein type. Surprisingly low-fat chocolate milk can be one of the best recovery drinks out there, which I always find comfort in!

The link below is to one research (there are many) that illustrates the effect of consuming a recovery drink following exercise.

Race like you train, train like you race

This basic routine of fueling properly before and during training combined with quickly drinking a recovery drink is something that should be applied to racing in the same manner. One of the most important things I learned when I started working with my coach Jesse, is to follow the same principles of nutrition in racing as you would in training. This avoids nutrition problems that many people experience on race day because you are entirely used to the routine of fueling.

Listen to your body!

The final concept that I find very important to maintaining proper recovery is simply listening to your body. This might actually be the most difficult part because outside pressures continually push you to train more. For example, you might feel like you are too tired but there is a group ride that day all your friends are going on, so you join the ride anyways. Or you might have sponsors you feel will be disappointed if you don’t race a particular race. Always placing your body first and the outside pressures second is a very good way to avoid beating yourself up when you feel like you need more recovery. I can tell you first hand, this is not easy and I struggle with this question from time to time. For me it is has helped to ask myself the question ‘will this training help me achieve my goals?’ If I answer no, it won’t help me, then I need to rethink my recovery and training. Sounds simple, but easier said than done! Good luck!

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Darby Thomas

Darby Thomas on Suomessa asuva, mutta Yhdysvalloissa syntynyt triathlonin ammattilainen. Thomaksen blogi julkaistaan englanniksi.
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