Trail Running and Recovery – Part Three

In a series of three articles by Coach Martin Trout, we look at Recovery strategies in Trail Running.

  • Types of recovery strategies
  • Which ones are shown to work
  • How they can benefit you
  • Best practices

In this final article, Part 3 of 3. Martin looks at the correct use of nutrition and sleep as factors that can contribute to an optimal recovery strategy.

Part 1. and introduction focused on:

  • Hydrotherapy
  • Active Recovery

Part 2. focused on:

  • Compression garments
  • Massage
  • Stretching.

Recovery in Trail Running – Part 3.

by Martin J. Trout – Part three of three.

  • Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Summary

Nutrition

As was mentioned in part one of this guide – training damages muscle fibres and depletes glycogen stores.

Following the correct nutritional strategy in an accurate and consistent manner after workouts, will help:

  • Restore muscle and liver glycogen stores
  • Replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat
  • Promote muscle repair
  • Bolster the immune system

Why you should incorporate a correct nutrition strategy:

It has been shown in numerous studies that athletes who optimize post-exercise nutrition will perform better in their next training session and accumulate more high quality sessions than athletes skipping post-exercise nutrition.

How soon after training should you start nutrition intake

It is generally considered an optimum strategy to ensure an adequate intake of nutrition within a 30 minute window following the end of an intense or long training session.

Further ensuring that correct nutrition and hydration is maintained in the 2 to 3 hour period following a training session is also recommended.

Sleep

On average we sleep for anything between 25 to 35% of our lives.

Why we sleep and why it is so important has been a mystery for most of human existence however recent research is shedding more light on this extremely important activity.

For those who wish to read more about sleep I would highly recommend “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker.

What is extremely clear is that restricting sleep to less than 6 hours per night for four or more consecutive nights has been shown to:

  • Impair cognitive performance and mood,
  • Disturb glucose metabolism, appetite regulation and immune function.

This type of evidence has led to the recommendation that adults should obtain a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night.

Why is sleep so important for athletes

For athletes this is even more important since impaired cognitive performance increases the perception of effort and limits physical performance leading to sub par training and/or racing.

In particular sub-maximal prolonged activity seems to be more seriously affected than short maximal efforts.

Both physical and mental recovery are negatively effected by even partial sleep deprivation.

Summary

Recovery is an essential part of the training cycle and program.

It is important that each individual athlete experiments with various strategies in order to identify their own optimum approach.

Without doubt nutrition (and hydration) together with sleep are the most important elements.

On top of these each individual should experiment with additional recovery protocols such as active recovery, compression garments, hydrotherapy, massage and stretching in order to ascertain which combination of methods works best.

 


Martin John Trout
Martin Trout is an all round Adventurer, an accomplished ultra runner, mountaineer, ski mountaineering instructor and trail running coach at Endurance Training in Progress. He’s been living in Italy since the 1990’s.