It's usually long after hard rides, and after long hard rides like today's Hell of Hunterdon ride, that I think about post-ride nutrition and rest for recovery. Yes, at times even I forget how important it is to consume high quality protein and complex carbs immediately after a hard ride...that is if you want a speedy recovery. (And no, pizza w/ pepperoni and beer doesn't count as high quality protein and complex carbs.) Because it's the AFTER part of the ride, when the recovery occurs, that your body builds back up- stronger...not during the ride. (During the ride, you're tearing down the muscle tissue/fibers.)
Here are some things you can do AFTER your ride to speed-up recovery:
a. Consume high quality protein and complex carbs. As I mentioned previously, consume high quality protein and complex carbs within 20 minutes of the end of your ride. Consuming foods (w/ protein and carbs) within this time period, which has been scientifically proven, speeds up the recovery process.
b. Replace fluids. Even I don't drink as much as I should on a ride..or afterwards. If your urine is dark in color, you're not drinking enough. And, it's probably NOT a good idea to drink beer (or any alcohol for that matter) after a ride (even though I do) because the beer will only dehydrate you more. Water supports just about every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body. So, drink plenty of it.
c. Rest. Sounds easy enough but it's amazing how much running around I seem to do after a hard ride. If you can swing it, try to take a nap for an hour or two when you get home from a hard ride. (see sleep)
d. Massage. I know we don't all have the luxury of a masseuse after our rides..like the big boys (pros) do. (BTW, the reason they get massages is not because they are pampered athletes, but because it speeds-up recovery.) But, you can get a similar effect by using a "massage stick" or "electronic rollers". I use an electronic roller pad, made by Home Medic that I originally bought for my lower back, and it works great. A massage will improve circulation. Plus, it feels great on sore/tired quad muscles.
e. Sleep. Get lots of it. While you sleep, your body produces a growth hormone which is responsible for tissue growth. Unlike the photo above, try a bed..it's much more comfortable and relaxing and you'll sleep better/longer..haha.
Having said that, time for BED..need to start recovering. Power ON! Coach Rob