Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Helping recovery from late training and competition

With more and more clubs struggling to get time in sports facilities, many athletes are face training, competition or matches late at night. I've known many swimming clubs have pool time 9-10pm (and then followed by a 7am morning session), and was recently expected to be on court for a match for 9.15. This provides an athlete with a few challenges- Motivation, fueling, and then recovery so that the athlete is able to train again efficiently the next day, especially if it is an early start.

So how can athletes best fit their preparation and recovery at this time at night in order to be able to train or compete at the best, and be able to recover quickly and effectively?

1) Be prepared- You will have a time table or schedule which will give you notice when these late sessions may be. Make sure you are aware of this, especially if its not frequent so you can get ready. Plan your day, and meals so that there is one less thing to think about.

2) Try to understand how long your body needs between a meal and training. Individuals will vary, but you should allow at least an hour between the meal and training time. If you know it will be an intense training session or match, try to have small snacks at regular intervals to top up energy levels. This would also apply to those who struggle to stomach meals before they have to train and compete, or those who suffer with nerves.

3) Be flexible with your meals. Perhaps have a larger, later lunch which is high in carbohydrate and then have smaller snacks closer to the game or training and after the match.

4) As its later, an athlete may struggle to replace their fluid needs before they go to bed. So athletes should try to ensure they start the match or training session hydrated as normal, paying more attention to taking fluid on board than they normally would. At the end of the match or training session, again attention should be paid to replacing fluid losses, taking a drink with them to bed that they can drink if they wake during the night.

5) Even though it is late, attention should be paid to a post recovery snack or meal. There may be little or no appetite, but in order to help recovery there should be something consumed immediately after which is high in carbohydrate to help restore carbohydrate used in exercise and a good source of protein to help muscle repair. This should be approximately 1g Carbohydrate per kg of body weight.

Some good choices for smaller recovery snacks before bedtime which are quick and easy:
  • Healthy Breakfast Cereal and Milk 
  • Milk and Banana
  • Yoghurt and fresh fruit
  • Wholegrain bread- as toast with jam. Or as a sandwich with a light filling
  • Jacket Potato with filling- Tuna & Sweetcorn, Chicken, Baked Beans

1 comment:

  1. For those who don't feel like they've eaten unless they've had a hot meal, consider couscous or polenta based meals which are quick and easy to make, or try beans or poached eggs on toast. One of my favourite 'meals' after a late race is flavoured couscous with sunflower seeds, a pepper, a few tomatoes, some smoked salmon and a couple of spoonfulls of hummus. The best bit is that only requires some boiled water to cook, so can be made in a hotel room with just a kettle. So long as I've shopped beforehand, I don't need to worry about wasting time searching for an open restaurant after a late-night race. And it's a lot quicker than eating out, so I can get to bed earlier.