March 21, 2010

The Sunday Sampler - Fitness

Welcome to a new installment of The Sunday Sampler.  This is the day where I share my insights, thoughts, and opinions with you about different things in three categories: fitness, parenthood, and health rotating each category each week.  I hope that makes sense! :)  
My hope is that I will be able to help you along your adventure just like so many others have helped me. So, let me know what you think!  I'd love to read your perspectives on these things as well!  :) 

Fitness:  Recovery
One thing I learned last year from training for my first Half Iroman was the importance of proper recovery after a long workout.  I read lots of books and online articles about what to do and what to eat.  I would take notes and put them in my workout binder (yes, I have a binder that holds this info), and revisit them when needed.  At first I thought it was all hype.  That is, until I started really putting in the swim/bike/run miles and noticing the difference on the days I actually paid attention to recovery and those I didn't.  The truth is that your muscles need to be properly recovered so they are ready for their next big workout, which comes pretty quickly when you're in the midst of training.  So, here are some things that I have found to help me and one thing that seems to help others that I have yet to try.  

Glycogen is the source of energy most often used in exercise and is an important fuel for skeletal muscles during prolonged exercise.  After an intense workout, your glycogen stores are depleted and increased cortisol levels begin to break down muscle tissue.  Therefore, proper recovery is crucial to insure that injury, fatigue, soreness, and illness don't occur.   The key to good recovery is to eat and drink the proper nutrients your body needs after a workout in order to promote muscle repair and replenish glycogen stores. You want to eat quickly digestible carbohydrates and stay away from a lot of fat because it will slow down your body's absorption of the nutrients you need.  Ideally, you should try to consume your recovery nutrition within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.  So, here are some ideas of what you can eat.  Yes, you can buy pre-made recovery products, but I want to focus on things you might already have sitting in your fridge/pantry.  Plus, they're cheaper and can save you lots of moola if you train a lot!        

What to eat/drink:
·        Glass of chocolate milk
·        Protein shake made with protein powder(2Tbl), water, and ½ banana
·        Shake made with ½ banana, orange juice, and vanilla yogurt
·        Fat free cottage cheese w/ banana and cinnamon
·        Peanut butter(1Tbl) and ½ banana on rice cakes(2) or whole wheat english muffin
·        Hummus(1/4C) and whole wheat pita
·        Low-fat yogurt(8oz) with 1/2C berries
·        Turkey(4oz) and cheese (1soft wedge) roll-ups w/ apple slices
·        Cheese and crackers
·        Dried fruit and almonds

While I am usually able to get in my recovery nutrition at home, I always have a back-up snack stored in my car and gym bag in case something comes up. Little snack ziploc bags are the perfect size to hold little things to munch on.  

Compression Gear:
O-kay, so I know there is a lot of hype about the use of compression gear for recovery.  If you google it you will find article after article about it.  But, no matter what is said about it I've found that some people love it, some people don't believe in it, and some people swear by it.  I am part of the third set of people.  I swear by it.  

Once again, I became interested in compression gear while I was training for my HIM.  Most of my post workout soreness would be in my thighs and hamstrings, so I wanted a full tight instead of the calf sleeves or socks.  After researching several different brands and styles, I ended up getting a pair of the Zoot CompressRx active tights. (Note:  This post is my own opinion.  I was not paid by Zoot to promote their product).  

The people at Zoot say the compression tights stabilize and prevent post-exercise soreness, improve blood flow back to the heart, and reduce lactic acid levels.  I was really skeptical about whether or not they would actually work, but I have to say that I honestly think that they do help with my recovery.  I no longer get that second-day crazy soreness that I would get in the past.  I feel like my body is able to recover more quickly and is ready to tackle my next big workout without a lot of fatigue and soreness.  Although they look like they would fit a 5yr. old, they are not too tight and are actually pretty comfortable to wear.    

Usually after my long workouts I make a glass of chocolate milk and stretch.  Then, I take a shower and put on my tights.  I have actually come to look forward to putting on my tights after a hard bike ride or long run.  Depending on what I do for the rest of the day I might wear them for a couple of hours, for the rest of the day, or while I sleep if my workout was done in the evening. 

So, do any of you use compression gear?  I would love to hear your thoughts on it!   

Ice Bath:
I have to admit that I have never done an ice bath.  I am a total cold wuss and I don't think I would survive one.  That being said, I have heard wonderful things about the benefits of an ice bath after a long workout.  So, I will probably jump in the ice wagon (ha ha..get it) and take the plunge some time in the future.  Here's some info. I found from about why ice baths help with recovery:
Cryotherapy ("cold therapy") constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body. "Ice baths don't only suppress inflammation, but help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles," says David Terry, M.D., an ultrarunner who has finished both the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run 10 consecutive times.
I have also read several posts from bloggers reporting on their ice bath efforts.  So, if you (or I) ever decide to do one, here's how I've read you (I) should do it.  

1.  Put on your swimsuit bottoms or tri shorts.  Wear something warm on your upper body. Possibly put on some gloves and a hat.  Have something warm to drink while you're in the tub.  
2.  Fill your tub with cold water
3.  Hop into the tub and let your body adjust to the cold water for a few minutes
4.  Add some ice (I've heard 2 ice cube trays is plenty)
5.  Sit in the tub for 10-15 minutes 
6.  Jump out, dry off, and take a warm shower about 30minutes after getting out

Brrr...I am getting cold just thinking about it.  I guess my hesitation in doing an ice bath is not knowing when I should take one.  I mean, what distance or time warrants sitting in FREEZING cold water?  1 hr?  2hr?  10miles?  15miles?   
Do any of you do ice baths?  If so, when do you do them?  

I hope this post helped to shed some light on the importance of proper recovery.  But, with nutrition, compression, and ice baths, there is also a need for rest.  Don't forget to reward yourself and let your body rest in order to refuel, recharge, heal, and repair.  After all, nothing beats a good nights sleep.  


AM-GoalsfortheWeek! said...

wow. What a comprehensive post chalk full of info! nice;-)

I've used my compressions Recovery Socks and I love them...and you're reminding me to use em' today after my ~2.5 hr workout!
and yah, I'm with you on the ice baths! brrrrr! Plus our bathtub is the size for kids no older than 8, so it's not that enticing.

Tracey Kite said...

I use the Compression calf sleeves and love them. I think as my training increases I may move to the pants. I am with you on the Ice bath, not sure I will ever try that!

Julie said...

Hi Aimee,
This was a great post packed with useful information! I love the suggestions for what to eat after the race. I need to purchase compression socks and tights. They are both on my list of must haves:) Me and icebath=very cold and unhappy! I understand how it could really help people with recovery but I really hate the cold!! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Velma said...

Nice post. I love compression socks. I really think they help, and I can wear them to work and nobody notices :) I have done an ice bath - even though they suck they do help. I only do them for marathon training.

utmomof 5 said...

I sooooo look forward to my chocolate milk after long runs/bike rides. It is like a little reward for me :)

I have done the ice baths but only when I was running in college. Hated them then and haven't been able to talk myself into them these days. But they do work!!!

I told my hubby I want some compression tights forr my b-day/mother's day/ anytime he wants to buy me something. I figure they can't hurt and hopefully will help!

Thanks for the info

Kelly said...

Great stuff!! I do all of the above, and have just started with ice baths. I'm amazed at how great they make me feel. I usually do them after any long run (90 min. or so) or any workout longer than 2 hrs. I also don't wait 30 min. before the shower, and then put on my compression socks right after.

Jon said...

I do cold water baths. My tap water is cold enough to make everything go numb, so why add ice? I wear clothing but I hop into an empty tub and fill it with me in there. There is no sudden shock to the system.

trifitmom said...

recovery food sooooo important, i have learned that the hard way

compression socks, tights. i am waiting for some company to send them to me for a review b/c i don't want to pay since i don't know if they will work

ice baths, don't do long enough to need them yet...but i do ice my shins a bunch b/c i have shin splints

Charisa said...

I love your ice bath picture - that is just awesome. I was actually part a study Zoot did when they first created their compression. I did a lactate threshold test multiple times where they have you on a treadmill running WAY uncomfortable pace and take blood from your finger ever 2 minutes for an hour to measure lactate. The numbers were way better when the compression stuff was used, so I'm a believer now too :)

Christi said...

Great post! I have compression socks and compression shorts. I bought the socks by accident but I love them now. I haven't done an ice bath in a long time because they scare me but I might try it agin.

teacherwoman said...

This is a great post full of wonderful information. I would like to try the compression tights.

I did an ice bath once after a 10 mile run and it was the best thing for me. I think the key is to do it right after that long workout. My mom tried one for the first time after a 10 mile run and she could feel the difference. She was less sore that day or the next day!

Michelle Simmons said...

Great post! I'm a firm believer in compression- although I think you can buy the cheaper medical grade stuff and it works just as well (or better?) than the pricier triathlon geared stuff. I have a pair of each (socks) and prefer the cheaper medical grade ones.
And ice baths... ok, you know I HATE cold b/c I live in Hawaii, duh, but I cannot say enough about ice baths. I take 2x/week, even during recovery weeks, and I swear they ward off injuries and help with recovery. The first one s definitely the worst, and I think they get easier after that. Now they just flat out feel good. I think I have numbed some nerve endings of something so I'm much less sensitive now that I do them regularly. Try 'em!! :)

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I am a STRONG believer in compression, maybe its a mind thing, but I truely believe it works.

Anonymous said...

I am a huge fan of ice baths no matter how much torture they feel like! Oh, and I also love my compression socks!

Regina said...

Your timing is spooky!! As you know (cuz you were there already), I had an ice bath yesterday, drank a protein shake after my long run and am now siting here in compression tights. In fact I use the CW-X 3/4 tights and a pair of compression socks. Ahhhhh..... thanks for the other ideas for recovery eats!

Nathan said...

Compression gear and ice baths are great, but I came across a product that provides both. It's compression gear plus pockets to ice your muscles down so you can move around. It's not as cold as an icebath, but the convenience makes up for it.

Amber Shea said...

I have compression sleeves for my calves, and I like them. I'm not convinced they actually work, but the placebo effect is good enough for me :]

I HATE ice baths! I try to do them after any run over 10 miles, but I admit to making excuses and skipping them too often =/

Tricia said...

great post!

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I just discovered your blog through RUn Like a Mother. Your posts are really helpful as I, too, am a former teacher turned stay at home mom (my girls are 4.5 and 1.5) , runner and wannabe triathlete. I look forward to reading more!