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rest & recovery

-By: Tomas Swift-Metcalfe

Last modified: May 15, 2013

cycling, rest & recovery -the Giro rest day

Cycling racing has a huge component of rest & recovery in it. It’s a factor that few sports include; how well someone can perform day after day.

My TV has terrible coverage of the Giro d’Italia, which is a shame (it’s without a doubt the best Grand Tour). I keep an eye on in mainly following my former team mate Ricardo Mestre, who’s busy working hard for his team. He’s done a fantastic job, that never gets enough mention or credit: controlling the breaks, getting the breaks, helping his leader.

Yesterday was the first rest day in the race. And it got me thinking, you might be curious to know what happens on a rest day? I’ve never ridden a grand tour… hopefully some day, but I’ve ridden the Volta a Portugal, which is the only race outside the Grand tours to include a rest day.

When you’re doing these long races, they feel like an eternity, a life time. On the rest day, most people just want to get straight back to racing ‘get it over and done with’. Most cyclist train on the rest day, the reason being that they don’t want retain a whole lot of fluids that will make racing the next day difficult. Also training allows them to keep the enzymatic activity within the muscles elevated and primed for action; so on a typical rest day, cyclists will generally do a few sprints, maybe one sustained effort. It sounds torturous, it doesn’t feel that bad.

linhares da beira

Linhares da beira

I’ve only done two ‘Voltas’ and in both cases I was near Serra da Estrela on the rest day. I love Serra da Estrela, it’s one huge play ground for cyclists! The first Volta I did I wanted to get away from the team -I get cabin fever over long races, and went up to the ‘oldest’ village in Portugal, right up a mountain and in the middle of nowhere, the place was amazing, tiny stone building and incredible cobbled streets that I ‘mountain biked’ around. The place was called ‘Linhares da Beira’. That little escape from the pressures of the race allowed me to reset and return to the race reinvigorated.

recovery in training

What does this mean for recovery in training? The most important part of recovery in training is actually recovery fully enough so that you’re better that better, this takes longer than a day, but shouldn’t take longer than three, unless you’ve ‘overreached’ in which case it can take a bit longer and recovery has to be carefully managed so as not to result in a loss of fitness.

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