Food choices: Exactly the right solid, semi-solid (gels) and liquid food combination to consume during exercise is highly personal. One athlete may thrive on bananas and Gatorade. This menu may send another athlete sprinting for the port-a-potty. Use trial and error to figure out what works for you. It is vital to practice in training many times what you plan to consume in a race.
4. Post-Exercise Nutrition Habits
The job of post-exercise nutrition is to regain hydration status, replenish electrolytes, replace carbohydrate and provide protein for muscle repair and antioxidants to reduce cellular damage.
During exercise, your muscle cells take up glycogen at a higher rate than when at rest. At the end of an exercise bout, this effect lasts up to 30 minutes. Glut-4 molecules hang out on the muscle cell membrane and grab glucose from the blood. Glut-4 molecules are super-activated by high intracellular calcium and insulin levels produced during exercise.
Refueling within 30 minutes of the end of an exercise bout enables you to take advantage of the Glut-4s while they are still ramped-up. This will quickly replenish your muscle glycogen.
If you miss this window it can take up to 48 hours to fully replenish your muscle glycogen fuel stores. Also, immediately consuming protein may reduce post-exercise muscle breakdown.
5. Remove Heat Stress
In hot climates, immediately after a race or workout, remove heat stress from your body. At most triathlons, you finish near the swim start. Walk waist deep into the water and stay there for five minutes or until your body temperature feels down to normal.
6. Time Management
A day spent running all over town, doing a month's worth of errands in a day, does not equal a recovery day. Poor time management can also eat into sleep hours.
7. Stress Management
Chronic stress causes illness, injury and burnout—not good things for athletic performance.
8. Pre-Exercise Nutrition
Ensure you begin a workout with your carbohydrate tanks full and fully hydrated. If you work out first thing in the morning, consume some "low glycemic index" carbohydrates with water to replenish stores after your overnight fast. (Visit GlycemicIndex.com for more info on this concept.)
Stretching, relaxation and meditation have been shown to speed recovery.
Massage increases circulation, flushes away waste products and brings in fresh nutrients while promoting relaxation.