2XU's Pro Triathlete, Thomas Gerlach - "Make Recovery Your #1 Priority"

2XU's Pro Triathlete, Thomas Gerlach - "Make Recovery Your #1 Priority"

As someone who races many IRONMAN's a year, one of the most frequent questions I get from my peers is "how do you recover and race so often?" The answer is complicated and there are many different things that contribute to my recovery, but ultimately it is about making recovery a priority.

 

Photo Credit: TriJuice

 

Some of the simplest things we can do to accelerate the recovery process are often the hardest to achieve. Things like sleep are so beneficial to recovery, but as busy athletes we are so used to thinking that a full 8 hours is simply an oasis in the desert. In reality athletes need to sleep more than the full 8 hours. My own personal routine is 8 hours + 30 minutes for each hour of exercise. If you train 5 hours that means you get 10.5 hours of sleep. This may sound like a lot to people currently getting by on 5-6 hours, but ultimately that is a crash course for injury, burn-out, and system shutdown.

Besides sleep there are a whole host of recovery products out there to help with recovery. Some of my favorites include using a foam roller religiously before I go to bed. Foam rolling is a convenient way to self-message and work the soft tissues and break up adhesions. As little as 10 minutes a day can make a dramatic impact to your recovery and help keep those injuries at bay. Compression socks are another tool to help you with your recovery. 2XU compression socks have become a staple for me post workout and I'm always donning a pair after workouts and up until bedtime. Compression socks help return fluid build-up in your legs back up so it can be processed and expelled if necessary. This facilitates my own recovery and I find a noticeable benefit in keeping the legs feeling fresh for the next day's sessions.

Lastly I can't stress enough the importance of healthy eating. In today's world there are so many different fads when it comes to eating that it is tough to sort out the good from the rotten. Overall I'm not so concerned with what you are eating, but that you are eating enough and making specific efforts to get in some protein post workout. It is also important to get some carbs and/or healthy fats as well, but too often I find athletes trying to cut too many calories. This leaves athletes under-fueled and unable to perform their intensity sessions to the level needed to make improvements in their systems. Real food is great for recovery, but sometimes it isn't convenient and that is where PowerBar's long list of recovery focused products have been my own saving grace. After a hard session I like to immediately start the recovery process off with a Chocolate Peanut Butter ProteinPlus bar from PowerBar.

Ultimately athlete's need to make recovery a priority. Hopefully some of these tips either serve as a healthy reminder or as a platform to kickstart your own recovery routine. Regardless, just as swimming, biking, and running are important to triathletes and their performance, it helps to think about some of the facets of the sport that we often don't put as much thought and effort into. I promise that if you make recovery a priority that you will grow as an athlete and achieve more than you otherwise could.

 

Byline: Thomas Gerlach is a professional triathlete from Madison, WI. He currently holds the 2nd fastest Ironman bike split by an American with a time of 4:15:57. He also writes a weekly update of his own personal training and his journey at his website.

 

Feature Photo Credit: Ali Engin

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