Great performance and good recovery practices go hand-in-hand. Trevor Woods reveals his ultimate tips for performing at your best.

The key to optimising your training response is mastering your recovery. There are two critical practices that must not be neglected – sleep and nutrition. If an athlete is not optimising these two ‘recovery pillars’, other accessory techniques will have minimal benefit.

OPTIMISE SLEEP

Studies show getting the right quality and quantity of sleep leads to increased performance and mental well-being in athletes. It is also known that chronic sleep debt impairs performance, bothphysical and mental. How many hours do we need, this varies, but common advice is to aim for 8–10 hours per night? In addition to sleep duration, sleep quality and sleep phase also affect the regenerative qualities of sleep. Exercising late in the day can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, and following up an intense evening session with inadequate sleep is far from ideal. Athletes losing sleep after these evening sessions are advised to switch their intense training to the morning and focus evening training time on lower intensity activities such as yoga, stretching, and massage.

RECOVERY NUTRITION

For athletes training 2-3 times per week, following a healthy daily nutrition plan focused on whole foods is generally sufficient for optimal recovery before the next training session. But for those training once per day or more, refuelling promptly for the next session is critical.

Refuelling appropriately on a consistent basis after workouts will restore muscle and liver glycogen stores, replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat, promote muscle repair and bolster the immune system.

Immediately on finishing a workout, start replacing fluid and electrolyte losses with a sodium containing drink or water plus sodium containing food. To restore muscle glycogen and promoteprotein synthesis, consume 0.8g per kg of body weight of carbohydrate and 0.2g per kg of body weight of protein within 30 minutes of finishing exercise.

A homemade smoothie is a good option using fruit, milk, natural yogurt and/or water, and the addition of Udo’s Choice Beyond Greens will give an additional nutrient boost of B12, iron, calcium and protein from rich green foods.

Additionally, antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin A, and microbiotics are good additions to a recovery drink or snack, so try adding some One Nutrition Spirulina, or Udo’s Choice Super 8. In the hours post-exercise continue your recovery by eating a healthy whole foods meal. This meal should contain a combination of carbohydrate, about 20g of protein and some healthy fat, a good source being Udo’s Choice Oil Blend. Use it as a dressing on salads or cooked vegetables. Athletes who optimise post exercise nutrition will perform better in training and accumulate more high qualitysessions than athletes skipping post-exercise recovery fuelling.

Trevor Woods is a qualifi ed exercise physiologist and experienced triathlete with multiple national titles along with World and European age-group medals in triathlon. He is also the current Masters M50 cyclocross national champion.