Miles Havlick on How To Recover From Hard Training Days

When it comes to ski racing, the hard part is not reaching the twenty-hour training goal for the week or hammering out another level-4 interval on a frosty bike path in October; what’s tough is bouncing back from those workouts. Recovery is quite simple, but it is often neglected because it is so simple. By taking care of the small things, we can get more out of every workout and recover more quickly enabling us to get back out for another training session or competition.

With the endless supply of recovery gimmicks out there, it’s easy to get caught up in all the marketing Kool-aid, some of which is supported by research but most of it not. What we can rely on however, are the tried-and-true methods of recovery that athletes have been utilizing since the days of Neanderthals (almost).

While working out, our bodies are like glycogen sponges starting full and slowly being wrung out as more energy is needed. Immediately following a demanding workout, the sponge is particularly receptive and in desperate need of replenishment. Within 15-20 minutes of completing training, it is essential to consume something; preferably containing carbohydrates for glycogen replacement, protein to repair damaged muscle fibers, and fat for its caloric density. This will kick-start the recovery process and ensure that all that suffering pays off.
Another underutilized recovery tool is massage, which can do magic in transforming sore, tired legs into a brand new pair in a relatively short period of time. Massage has been proven to clear out waste products, increase circulation, and promote healing to damaged tissues. Unfortunately, most of us do not enjoy the perks of a full-time masseuse but there are some quality alternatives that can be performed on your own. Foam rolling, yoga, and good-old stretching are a great start and there is a wide array of instructional videos online to keep things from getting stagnant. Work it into the morning routine, be diligent, and feel the difference!
Most importantly in my mind and perhaps the most neglected aspect to recovery is rest. Despite what people may claim, training actually makes us weaker. Muscle fibers break down, glycogen in our muscles and liver are depleted and we eventually get tired. It is not until we eat and rest that the body is able to bounce back stronger than before. And don’t think that perusing Facebook or watching the latest Bourne movie is rest, I’m talking about sleep. Take a nap or get to bed early and let your body do what it does best so you can get back to chasing the dream.
Get out there, click into those skis, push that Garmin to its limits, but be sure to stay on top of the small things. Eat well, run through a self-massage routine, get to bed early and stroll up to that Senate Meadows start line with a little extra spring in your step!
Miles Havlick, SVSEF Gold Team Member
Hometown: Boulder, CO
Alma Mater: University of Utah
Favorite ski in the Valley: Billy’s Bridge Loop