Congratulations for your participation in the MS150.
For some this is an annual event and just another long training ride in preparation for the upcoming race season. However, for many this is the big event of the year, and for others this is perhaps their first attempt at such an endeavor. The following information is primarily intended for the latter two types of participants. Hopefully, you find this information in your race bag of goodies and have time to implement the following advice:
Proper Hydration is essential during and post-exercise.
If you have not urinated in several hours, you are dehydrated. The human system can only absorb approximately 6 – 8 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes. After the race, you should continue hydrating until your urine is clear in color. Ideally, a recovery drink containing roughly a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein should be consumed within 30 minutes of the race.
What should you eat?
Foods rich in anti-oxidants are necessary to fight the damaging affects of free radicals that accumulate as a result of oxygen processed by the cardiopulmonary system. Avoid processed foods high in saturated fats and simple sugars. Simple sugars spike the production of Insulin. These spikes reduce the body’s production of Human Growth Hormone, which is vital for a healthy recovery.
Stretch the major muscles groups associated with cycling.
This is no time to begin your often-delayed practice of Yoga. You should start easy and gradually progress to pleasant tension. If you find that you are holding your breath as you stretch, perhaps you should relax and back off. Stretch to your normal pre-race range of motion. The following is a list of the aforementioned muscle groups: spinal erectors, hip flexors, hamstrings, adductors, quadriceps, calves, forearms and hands.
Get a massage that is gentle and relaxing.
This will help the body flush the remaining lactic acid out of the tissues and prevents DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness. Sign up for this luxury quickly as there are always a limited number of therapists at the event. Do not get a deep tissue sports massage at this time.
Take a recovery ride roughly 48 hours from the time you finish the MS150.
This should be at 60% of your max cycling heart rate. This increases circulation, which transports oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, assists in the removal of waste products, and facilitates muscle repair. This means Monday is your day off and Tuesday is the earliest possible day for your recovery ride or exercise. Consider some aqua walking or another low impact exercise if you are still experiencing greater discomfort than your normal post-workout soreness.
See a health care professional for any specific soreness that lingers for more than 7-10 days.
You should seek out someone who specializes in dealing with active/athletic individuals. Obviously, if you are injured get immediate help from a medical professional.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine as these are diuretics and cause dehydration.
If you have been a smart rider and still feel as if you could ride another couple of hours, try to keep your intake to a minimum. Remember, you have been exercising in the sun all day and your tolerance will be greatly reduced. Do not take over-the-counter pain relievers if you consume alcohol, as this combination destroys liver and kidney cells.
No heat for 72 hours.
The chances are quite high that you have at least some mild inflammation after such an event in the hot April sun. Remember your basic chemistry; heat is an expander and applying it to tissue that is inflamed is like throwing fuel on the fire. You should take an ice bath or a cold shower for your aching muscles.
Consider having your bike position evaluated if you trained properly and experience excessive soreness from the MS150. Seek out a specialty bike store in your area to help adjust your bike position and fit.
As previously printed in Houston Sports News