I have read numerous times that you guys place a high value on recovery. What are some tools that I can incorporate into my routine on a daily basis that will help me recover better?
Here are five tools that you can add to your routine that will facilitate better recovery. Remember that "training = work + rest". Incorporate these and your recovery status will be much better. These can be done daily:
1) Cool Down: Post-workout recovery is a second only to sleep in the recovery hierarchy. A post workout cool-down speeds short-term and long-term recovery (defined as a return to a pre-training state) compared to not cooling down. Moving is preferable to static stretching because it supports circulatory activity (limb movement assists circulation so the heart doesn’t have to do it all on its own). Use a low-impact method like cycling, rowing, or walking. To flush the muscles move easily for 4-5 minutes and then “sprint” for 5-10 seconds. Do 3-4 cycles totaling 20 minutes.
2) Recovery Shower: A properly executed recovery shower stimulates circulation. Great benefits are scientifically recognized though the mechanism of action is not clearly understood. First, cook for 3-5 minutes under a hot shower, relax, and massage the muscles. The blood vessels will dilate. Then slowly turn off the hot water, until it's unbearably cold. Deal with it. Remain under the cold water for five minutes. The blood vessels will constrict. Once well-cooled, switch the hot water back on – the blood vessels will dilate and inrushing blood will flush the muscles. Repeat at least two cycles. Finish with cold water. Again, 3-5 minutes hot + 5 (full) minutes of cold, 3x. This may be done immediately following the workout. There is no penalty for doing it more often than once a day.
3) Ice Bath: can also be helpful. Following an intense workout or race, during which the muscles have been over-heated there is no reason to cook them more in a hot tub or simple hot shower. If an ice-cold stream is not available put 40-70lbs of ice in a bathtub, add water to waist height and get in. Try to accumulate a total of 10-15 minutes in 4-5 minute intervals.
4) Recovery Walk: Several hours (3-4 minimum) after training take a 20-30 minute walk with your dog or spin on the bike at an easy pace (HR no more than 65%) to boost circulation, flush the muscles again and create demand for more glucose. Afterward, eat a light snack, heavier on protein than carbohydrates if the next task is sleep.
5) Foam Roller: an essential self-massage tool. Use it daily. Rolling muscle and fascia under pressure stretches, separates and reorganizes it. This can be painful. This pain is indicative of bound-up tissue, or different muscles adhering to each other, which makes them inefficient. Frequent use of the foam roller increases the effectiveness of normal deep tissue massage because the practitioner won’t waste time releasing knots and tension, and can work on deeper, structural issues. Areas to emphasize are the IT bands, quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.