Active recovery is allowing your body to recover and grow while keeping mobile. It might provide a mental outlet for those who don’t like a full rest day and might also allow other athletes to enjoy time with family and friends, who do not necessarily take their training as seriously as they do.
When should you actively recover?
Part of this is down to knowing your body and the riding schedule you have.
Active recovery might be done when you can feel your body starting to fatigue. You might go on how you feel on your training rides and your daily life; do you feel like you are tiring quickly, is your recovery slow? Do you feel tired and stiff when you move around the house, do you have an elevated heart rate in the morning, or shortness of breath doing normally easy tasks?
When analysing your data look for the following when deciding if you need to take it easy:
- Energy output (vastly above intake).
- Energy intake (vastly below output).
- Stress levels (are you being unusually short tempered).
- Sleep levels (have you been feeling more stressed than usual).
- Emotional happiness (are you feeling low mood and miserable).
How should you actively recover?
I am not an advocate of actively recovering while doing your main sport. For us that would be cycling. It is too easy to let your mind slip and crack on at a hard pace/power. This will be too much stress and therefore not recovery.
Instead exercise like walking and swimming can be great forms of active recovery. If you’re going to ride, indoors is best. With Zwift or RGT, you could even hook up with a friend for a steady social cycle and keep it below a certain wattage (check your zones!). Yoga and Pilates are other amazing forms of active recovery.
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