After you finish an event you might want to do a few things… Firstly if you’ve gone hard enough it’s usually struggle to breath and hold back vomit. Following on from that you might do at least 10 minutes spinning your legs out in an easy gear, then proceed to stretch for about a further 15 minutes. This is a cool-down.
In essence while you’re still on your bike all a cool-down is, is the reverse of a warm-up. So rather than getting your body ready for a hard effort by increasing the load you are putting on it you are allowing your body to adjust back to normality. It sounds really simple and it sort of is, but many people miss this opportunity to maximise recovery so they are as close to 100% for their next session as possible.
If you read my How to Warm-Up article you would have noticed I provided a really good session that you can use all the time in some form. In this article I’ve not included anything more specific than the top paragraph. You might find something that works for you, and if you’re my client we would want this working 100% asap, but it needn’t be more complicated than getting your legs spinning and gradually reducing this over time until you feel human again. Your heart rate and breathing have to returned to normal. You might use your turbo trainer or rollers to do your cool-down at the end. As with the warm-up this is probably the best way to do it as you can monitor everything without the fear of being run over. But please check the event organiser or start sheet as some events will not allow you to do this in the vicinity of the HQ.
Stretching, foam rolling and sports massage are the most common post-exercise activities. You should look to incorporate as many of these as you can afford. Ice baths, saunas and hot tubs all have as much science suggesting they work as they have suggesting they don’t. My advice is to try it some out, see how you feel, make notes and progress from there.
Why not watch my stretching video so you have an idea of what to do next time:
Remember to focus on the thought that everything you do to improve your cool-down and boost your recovery will have a positive affect on the performance of your next session…