March 27, 2017 § 2 Comments
“Recovery from what?” you might ask. As a word we have
A return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
synonyms: recuperation, convalescence
The action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
synonyms: retrieval, regaining, repossession, getting back, reclamation, recouping, redemption, recuperation
I am referring to the first definition, and more importantly to the “strength” part. I have dealt with the first part in more than simply the common cold, but the third part I encounter fairly often
Physiology is complicated in some ways, but there are some basic truths to the human body.
- If you consume more calories than you burn, you WILL gain weight.
- If you burn more calories than you consume, you WILL lose weight.
- If you exercise and burn more calories than you consume, you MAY lose more weight quicker.
- If you are in any kind of reasonable shape, then Recovery as it applies to the first part of the first definition WILL be better
I have said these things to people many times over the last 20+ years and people always argue with me that everyone’s body is different, and they all respond differently, blah, blah, blah. Yes, everyone’s body is different. Everyone does respond differently (that difference varies) to various stimuli, however as far as I know, the human body is unable to generate its own food/energy source. So we consume to get the energy we need to run our bodies. If our bodies are in shape, then they require more energy. That is called “Higher Metabolism”. That is basic physiology. People who are overweight need to consume more calories than people who are not overweight simply because many of their muscles are working harder to move that weight around.
This isn’t about overweight people. It’s about recovery, and recovery as it applies to endurance events.
I am cyclist, and have been for 40 years now. For many of those years I didn’t pay attention to my body, and certainly never gave much thought to food and cycling. That may not entirely be true. If we had a big ride (100 miles) or road race the next day, then we always ate a big pasta meal the night before, and a mild breakfast. Get those glycogen stores up! We got by on that. If we were out for a long ride, we carried something with us. In the early days it would be fig newtons, a banana, maybe a pb&j. We could stop along the road at a convenience store and pick something up.
In the late 80’s universities started doing more looking at the physiology of endurance athletes, as opposed to strength athletes, or skill athletes and they started to figure out how to test theory and accurately measure results, and they discovered a really neat thing about the human body.
When your body goes into energy consumption mode, it draws on the Glycogen stores in your muscles. The fitter you are the more glycogen you can store, but for many average athletes that is something on the order of a couple thousand calories, which isn’t enough to run a marathon, or to ride a 100 miles, or swim 10k etc. So the brain puts the body in a mode where the consumption of simple carbohydrates bypasses the normal “storage” mechanism, and it sends those carbs straight to the muscles where they are needed. This why we have aid stations in endurance events. Why professional cyclists “eat” during races, why triathletes eat during their events, and why near the end they start consuming the simplest of carbs, coca-cola.
Here is the great thing about this. It takes the body about an hour after your exercise has ended to shut that mechanism down, so if you are near food, the best thing you can do for yourself is to consume that food as soon after exercise as you can. Your body will digest that and send it straight to your muscles, and since you have stopped exercising, your muscles will start to recover and repair using that energy. Wait too long, and you lose that opportunity. It really is fantastically simple.
This past Saturday, I spent 6 hours riding the Hell Of Hunterdon out in beautiful Hunterdon County NJ. The ride consists of 82 miles of rolling hilly terrain that strings together 19 miles of gravel roads bring the total elevation gain to 1 mile. I could have eaten better before the start, but at least I had a nice big dinner the night before, and the ride had three aid stations along the way which had energy bars, goo, gels, PB&J, PB&Fluff, PB&Nutella, PB&Nutella&Fluff, bananas and of course Gatorade.
At the end of the ride, they have food inside which consisted of Rigatoni, Belgian Mashed Potatoes, salad, bread, chicken AND CRAFT BEER. Within 15 minutes of getting off the bike I was sitting at table with a plate of carbs, and a tall glass of beer. The absolute perfect recovery food for an endurance event.
I took yesterday off, and this morning I got up and went to spin class, and here is what I noticed. I felt great! I am 58 years old, and I was kicking my own ass at spin. I could tell that I could go deep the entire class, and that is really remarkable. In some sense I expected there to be some recovery, but I didn’t really expect it to be so complete. The human body is amazing.
Just sharing. I know this isn’t for everyone, but if it is for you, then EAT.