Professional triathlete and winner of this year's Escape From Alcatraz, Alicia Kaye, knows that quality recovery is the only way to continue making performance gains, so she takes her downtime seriously. Alicia compiled her favorite recovery methods that allow her to stay competitive with the world's best.
I often get asked for racing and training tips. While those are very important, equally key are recovery tips. Here are my “PERTs” – “Performance Enhancing Recovery Tips”! Get fitter and faster by resting!
Sleeping and Napping
Try to make sure you are getting adequate sleep for the amount of training you are doing. As a pro athlete, it is my job to make this a priority. However, this became much harder when I was a student or working a job and training at the same time. Everyone’s sleep needs are different. We all sort of know the ideal amount we need to feel good that day. My feel good amount is 8. If I get 7 hours, I just feel okay, but I feel downright sick if I sleep less than 7 hours. My ideal amount is 9+. Ironically, I am terrible at napping. My body just doesn’t want to do it, except at altitude! So I will just lie there - no electronics near me – and rest quietly. Someone once told me that lying there free from distraction is 50% of the value of actual sleep. Whether or not this is true doesn’t matter to me since the theory really helped curb my sleep anxiety as a kid when I struggled to fall asleep.
Make sure you are eating enough for the amount of training you are doing. Our sport is hard and demanding so it’s important to make sure you are fuelling it adequately. Thinking about food purely from a recovery perspective, make sure you get in a recovery drink or food within 15 minutes of a hard workout. I always aim for the 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. If I'm training in a particularly warm environment, I'll sip on Base Rocket Fuel to help replenish my electrolytes. Then within 60 minutes, I follow it up with a proper meal. After particularly hard sessions, I can feel nauseous so I really have to be disciplined about this timeline. I also simply listen to my body. If I’m craving lots of salt and fat then I will have a meal that is a reflection of that.
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day so here are two of my favorite big session recovery meals:
Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Then let your recovery time reflect that personality trait
If you aren’t sure if you are an extrovert or introvert, ask yourself this: Would you rather “charge your batteries” by yourself or with a select few people or would you rather go out in a more public setting with a larger group of friends? I was pretty extroverted when I was in high school and college but now as an adult I am definitely more introverted. So when I need to recover, I make sure my downtime is a reflection of this. I like to write, read, bake, or watch a movie to mentally recover.
Body Work and PR Lotion
I firmly believe in body work that includes modalities such as massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, MAT, laser, etc. These require an investment of time and money but if you have both, then these will assist in your recovery, and general health and well-being.
My secret weapon is PR Lotion to help buffer lactic acid before and after all my big training sessions. It works!
My husband (PR Lotion athlete and professional triathlete Jarrod Shoemaker) started working with NormaTec almost 10 years ago. I remember the first time I used them. I was a little skeptical. But sure enough, my legs did feel better. Then we had them at a masters swim meet and anyone that has been a competitive swimmer knows how the fatigue can really accumulate over a 2-3 day meet. I, along with the rest of our team, was using the NormaTec system in between events and that’s what solidified my belief. My legs didn’t feel heavy. I was recovering faster in between events and swimming consistently instead of feeling completely exhausted by day three. Now I use them every day as a pro triathlete to flush my legs and get ready for the next day.