Recovery suggestions after big event?

Looking for suggestions on how to recover / get back into training after a big event. This has long been a weakness of mine, and usually sees me flailing around for a few weeks unable to come anywhere near the levels / power outputs I was putting out before the event. Can’t really have that happen this time around as I’ve got my “A Race” in less than a month.

Event was an 18 hour mixed surface ride (with a bunch of hike-a-bike) on Saturday into Sunday, which I followed up with an easy 45 minute recovery ride on the trainer Sunday evening. Don’t normally manage to do that, so I’m hoping that it helps a bit. Legs feel swollen and awful today, and body is pretty damn broken (surprising how much even just having to wrestle shoddy farm gates can take it out of you!).

Current plan is to do some light weight training today (just to get some blood flow to my muscles), but could also feasibly do a gentle yoga session (not sure how well that would go as I’m very stiff). Tomorrow I’ve got a 1hr 15min (easyish) endurance session on the plan and then Wednesday a VO2max session that’s around a level easier than what I was doing a couple of weeks ago. Sadly I’m then away for 5 days, but hoping to do some endurance rides in the hotel gym to keep things ticking over.

Would be interested in what works for others. Normally I’d do very little at all in the week after the event, but that doesn’t seem to work for me… and I need to avoid setting myself back this time.

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Probably not the answer you want to hear, but if you scheduled this event in this proximity to your A race, then maybe your A race isn’t really your A race. Given what you have described with a recovery period and some travel, it will be a challenge to get to your peak, but I think you can be reasonably close to what you were for this prior event.

I would ditch the strength training and just focus on some z1 and z2 work this first week. I would try to maintain the volume you were doing prior, just without any additional stress, like weight lifting. Make sure to eat a lot.

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Good advice from Russell….I’d also ditch the VO2 max work this week. Start to introduce some intensity back in next week, depending on how your legs feel.

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Agree with @Power13 and @russell.r.sage. Also, I don’t see any use of weight lifting going forward into your A event. Also, this week I’d add in an extra rest day, probably sooner than later and really focus on recovery z1 and z2. The last thing you want is to sorta/half recover before you hit intensity next week then taper into your A event. Error on the side of taking too much recovery. You can’t build any more fitness before your A event, you can only recover then hold on to whatever fitness you have.

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Curious… what is your “A” race?

I didn’t make the schedule (doing one leads into the other). I definitely didn’t “peak” for last weekend’s event, but obviously I’m now carrying massive fatigue all the same.

Similar sort of thing again. Will involve carrying a fairly heavily laden bike up challenging terrain at times, so I’m not too keen on completely dropping the weight training. Would rather just reduce the intensity to stave off too much strength loss over the next few weeks.

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I’ve done a few longer events, Flanders, LBL, The Marmotte and the Mallorca 312. IIRC for most of them it has been a couple of days break and I never really entered into any serious training until the week after. For the Mallorca 312 my coach forced me to have a couple of days off before I joined a cycling tour on the island. So I probably didn’t start training hard until a week after I got back from that.

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I do a couple 18+ hour events a year.

Immediate recovery involves sleeping, eating, and lying on the couch for a day or two. Maybe doing some light z1 work or just going for a walk if I’m feeling it.

I’ll continue that until going up a flight of stairs feels normal again (seriously). At that point I will start going back into normal riding. That’s often at least a couple days of doing next to nothing. After particularly big reaches it can be a few weeks before my performance is back to normal.

You can’t rely on TSB for long events to guide recovery as it seriously underestimates recovery time for these sorts of things.

Given your description of taking weeks to recover, I would ask you how big of a reach this “big” rides were for you previously? Taking weeks to fully recover may be completely normal. And trying to do more work instead of recovering will just drag the process out longer.

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I don’t know if it’s a case of not recovering properly, or just not being able (mentally) / willing to push myself. I would generally feel fairly recovered within the next week but not wanting to get back to training. Usually I’d just go with whatever TR suggests for the next couple of easy weeks before trying to get back to it, but I don’t want to let off the gas nearly as much this time if I can avoid it.

As for how big a reach… I would generally do at least 10 of these sorts of things a year (including multi day versions), but that’s slightly different over the last year as I’m coming back from injury / COVID so I’ve been spending most of my time on the trainer rather than outdoors. I felt far better at the end of the event than I normally do, but that’s largely because I only rode it at about 80% (I had a time target to beat and I came in comfortably ahead of it).

I do like your point about the stairs. Definitely not feeling much like running up and down them today! :stuck_out_tongue:

If my legs/body were smoked like that I’d do 30-60 minutes active recovery at some ridiculously low power, like 50-80W (0.2 - 0.33 IF). I call those the ‘how low can I go’ ride. Do those until legs feel better, then I’d switch to doing a couple endurance rides and then add in some easy intensity days and back onto a plan.

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I agree. VO2 four days after an 18hour B-Race seems unproductive.

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I suspect I know the answer in advance, but assuming I only do Endurance tomorrow / Wednesday… what would you suggest for when I’m at the hotel until Tuesday?

If you only have an exercycle or similar it’s a good opportunity to either a)just do some more easy endurance riding to maintain blood volume etc and set you up for great training when you get home, or b)do VO2 workouts by RPE as you basically just go as hard as you can for the interval duration and realistically your Watts are inconsequential.

Just a thought to ponder, not necessarily a recommendation. I think it really has to be guided by how your body feels rather than pushing to get X or Y done.

This. ^^^^

I wouldn’t trust the wattage, so I’d definitely be working on HR rather than anything else.

Was just thinking of knocking out a few 140bpm endurance sessions.

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Did what I thought was going to be an easy endurance ride but found that it had form sprints in it. :frowning_face_with_open_mouth:

However, whilst my legs have been feeling tired and swollen all day, I somehow set a season PR on the sprints… which I’m taking as a good sign. Still going to take it easy tomorrow vs my originally intended VO2max though… will just have to be careful that this one doesn’t have anything high intensity hidden in it.

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AT can be tricksy like that :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:.

Especially if it didn’t realise how massive your B-Race was lol.

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I agree with the others for a step back from training for a few days as well as just do light recovery rides using heart rate, but only 30 minutes at a time.

You may want to focus on event nutrition and post event nutrition too. Do you normally take a recovery drink? Have you experimented with getting more protein during events to reduce muscle breakdown? I would also introduce some anti-inflammatory food during and after events as well as the next day. There are studies showing anti inflamataries can reduce the gains from traditional workouts, but after massive efforts like that they are helpful. I use dehydrated blueberry powder and sometimes take a fish oil for a day or two. Nothing crazy, but a little goes a long way!

Here is a decent link of the protein demands and scavenging during exercise.

https://www.hammernutrition.com/knowledge/endurance-library/how-much-protein

On the basis that I know, since I’m also doing it, what the OP is aiming for, (hint: it’s not pleasant and I wouldn’t describe it as a race more a challenge/event) I’d be looking at keeping everything really easy until at least the overarching tiredness wears off. If you were anywhere near the condition/fitness needed for your ‘A’ event then you aren’t going to lose anything significant in a week or so of taking it easy - assuming you don’t go full couch potato mode!

After something like this I tend to take at least two days complete rest, again, it’s not going to adversely affect my long term fitness then short, an hour or so, Z1 rides (both power and HR) over the next few days before starting to ramp things up again. I only go back to full on efforts once I’ve lost all that lassitude and “ughhh” feeling.

Curious - did you nip out and do the short course this weekend and are doing the longer one in November? Nothing’s popped up on your Strava feed so presume it’s marked as private for now as requested by the organiser. (Just for others, I know the OP in real life)

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No long one for me, I had a similar event elsewhere but can no longer make it. So I basically took a week of doing nothing / getting fat!

As it goes, I did a couple of reasonably hard sessions in the week after and felt OK, but I think largely as I’d taken it much easier in the 200 than I normally would have.

Edit - I was semi tempted to do the longer one once I’d heard the news… but I don’t think I’d enjoy it to be honest.