As competitive cyclists striving to improve our performance, our brains tend to focus on the “pushing hard” part — the spirited team rides, the intense hill-climbing training, and of course the races themselves. But how well are we using our time off the bike to boost what we can do on the bike? And as we get older, how can we keep our bodies strong and our times fast?
Our teammate and sponsor Marsa Daniel, owner of MD Endurance Coaching, is an expert on athletes’ performance AND recovery, especially when it comes to cyclists and rowers. She offered some great tips and inspiration at a seminar attended by a number of TGH’ers, stressing that our bodies’ ability to recover from a hard effort can be just as important as the hard effort itself. Efficient recovery becomes even more important for masters athletes, as our metabolism slows and our muscle mass decreases.
Muscle mass! That’s Marsa’s No. 1 tip for older athletes. Increased muscle mass does lots of things for us during recovery, from kicking metabolism up a few notches to slowing the effects of aging and promoting brain health. So the older racers among us should be carving out time to hit the gym for some quality strength work, especially during the off-season.
Marsa also described individual metabolic types, and how that should affect each racer’s approach to recovery (see her website for details).
Cut down on sugar.
Sleep (well) for 8+ hours — our bodies do lots of things during sleep that boost
recovery, so this is essential.
Address nutritional deficiencies.
Understand fats, and make sure you’re getting enough of the omega-3 variety.
She also reminded us to eat breakfast (a nutritious breakfast!), never get too hungry, eat protein consistently, limit alcohol and caffeine, choose pasture-raised foods to help reduce inflammation — and be sure to laugh and have fun.
Teammates came away with a wealth of ideas and resolutions.
“I have been thinking that I need to work on my strength more than I have in the past few years. This talk really highlighted to me that it’s even more essential now,” says Rosemarie Schmidt.
“I’m digging out my omega-3 oil as it has been hiding away in the refrigerator, I will be taking that more often! “ vows Amanda Anttila
Faye Christenberry noted that getting stronger and staying healthy is definitely harder to do as she gets older. “Marsa’s talk not only made me feel like it is still possible to improve, but she also gave us a lot of useful information on how to achieve it. Great motivation to start!”
Evidence of that great motivation: For dinner the night after Marsa’s talk, Paula Froke went for salmon and a double serving of broccoli (both rich in omega-3 fats) while sadly skipping the potatoes and wine (killers for sugar-burners like her). Later that night, she followed Marsa’s advice to not check her phone or computer in the last hour before bed, and read rather than watch TV. Anything to boost a good night’s sleep!
Marsa offers a variety of coaching services. Talk with her or see her website for details.