Tri Talk Tuesday: Recovery and Rest for Moms

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Tri Talk Tuesday is a monthly linkup hosted by You Signed Up For WHAT?!, Blisters and Black Toenails, and The TriGirl Chronicles. I LOVE this month’s topic, Recovery and Rest for Moms. What a great month to join the conversation!

Triathlon Recovery

They say that nutrition is the fourth discipline in triathlon.

If that is the case, then recovery is the fifth. (Blowing snot rockets is the sixth, but let’s talk about that some other time…)

The thing is, though, many of us triathletes also happen to be Type A personalities who are always in go-go-go mode. You’ve got to be that way if you’re going to balance life, work and three sports, right?

Well, not really. I don’t need to tell you that pushing your body too hard, without allowing it to rebuild, will ultimately break it down. Everybody knows that.

[tweetthis]”Anyone can work hard. The best have the discipline to recover. @laurenfleshman [/tweetthis]

Knowing is one thing, however, doing is another. Add being a mom to the mix, and the chances of R&R falling by the wayside increase exponentially. Now that school is back in session, mornings are crazy and evenings are for catching up on housework, work, doing that evening session on the trainer or in the pool…

Nine hours of sleep? Whoever could do that??

Sleep is important, of course, but it isn’t everything. There are the other usual suspects in proper recovery: how you eat and drink, how you structure training – those things make all the difference.

I wanted to share a few things that I’ve been doing in the past two years that, I believe wholeheartedly, have made it possible for me to:

– train seven days a week (that’s right, every day!) for weeks and months at a time;
– train twice a day at least two or three times a week;
– schedule back-to-back races (like the Livermore Half Marathon and San Francisco Rock’n’Roll on the same weekend; and Ironman 70.3 Hawaii and Escape From Alcatraz on two consecutive weekends) and complete them all in good time and injury-free;
– and, not least, PR a whole bunch of run-distances this year (5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon) and do well in triathlon, too.

Of course, those are things that I have found work well for me. I am not a doctor. I am not a professional runner or triathlete. Take everything with a grain of salt.

Sleep early, sleep often

I feel like a hypocrite saying this because my son is now seven and sleeps through the night. This was not the case up until he was three and a half years old, though, and I remember chronic sleep-deprivation quite well. To all moms with babies, toddlers and, in general, bad sleepers… oh, I understand!

But without enough sleep, our bodies cannot properly repair the muscle fibers we tear up in training and racing.

These days, I try to be in bed by 10 p.m., even if I don’t have to wake up at 5 am or 5:30 the next morning. If I have an early-morning date with the pool or my triathlon training group, I go to bed even earlier. And believe me, if I had the opportunity to take mid-day naps, I absolutely would!

Structure training wisely

I alternate days of hard workouts – especially running – with days of swimming and/ or spinning out the legs on the bike. When training for a marathon and focusing on running exclusively, I alternate hard runs – intervals, tempo runs or hill repeats – with super-easy 30- to 40-minute runs at an aerobic pace.

On days when I train hardest, I go to bed earliest.

Recover actively

I am a firm believer in active recovery. I have found that it works better for me than taking a complete day off; but that may not be the case for everyone. If you feel like your legs are getting heavier and heavier after each run or ride, take a day off. Swimming is a great, super low-impact way to add some action into an otherwise low-key day.

This is especially true post race, when your body needs rest the most. I take at least a couple of days completely off after key races. This allows me to recover physically as much as it gives me a mental break from all things running and triathlon.

Eat the right foods, at the right time

This is obvious, but I can’t not mention it. First, I always have some carbohydrate within 30 minutes of training. This is to replenish the body’s glycogen stores. Then I have some protein, healthy fats, and more carbs. Carbs are a triathlete’s best friend!

Also, they are delicious:

(There’s protein in there, too! Picky Bars are 4:1 carb to protein ratio, which is just the perfect formula for recovery. It’s science, dude.)

I also eat a LOT of this:

The fats in avocado are anti-inflammatory. So is Sriracha sauce. They taste delicious together.

I might often be too busy to whip up a healthy nutritious smoothie (and have to clean the blender afterwards), but I always have time to cut a bagel in two, toast it, smush up an avocado – yes, a whole one – on top of it, and drizzle it with Sriracha sauce.

Don’t feel guilty about downtime!

Finally, something that I struggle with on a daily basis: Mommy guilt. I go on a three-hour bike ride in the wee hours of Saturday morning, back home by 10 a.m., and then it’s a full day of activities and family fun. You wish you could just take a nap, right?

Well, sometimes, you should give yourself permission to take that nap. Or come up with an activity that gives you a bit more down time: day by the pool? BBQ in the back yard? Go to the movies? You can’t be always in “ON” mode and train, work, run around and parent, brimming with energy. Those moms don’t really exist, do they?

[tweetthis]Triathlon recovery and rest for moms on #TriTalkTuesday! #triathlon #womenfortri #swimbikerun #realwomenMOVE #sweatpink [/tweetthis]

What do you do to rest and recover from training and racing?

Next month’s Tri Talk topic is OFF SEASON. Can’t wait!

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