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The do’s and don’ts for recovering from a long bike ride

How to recover from a long day on the bike

Big rides are back! These long days on the bike are a great way to increase endurance, but they can leave you feeling a little drained. Physically and mentally a long bike ride can take its toll, especially the first long ride you do. Post-ride recovery is essential to getting you ready for your next training session. Unfortunately, we don’t always get it right. Here are the do’s and don’ts for recovering from a long bike ride.

1) Rehydrate with water, not beer

Cycling has its traditions – coffee rides and post-ride brews. After a long day on the bike, you may be dehydrated if you didn’t manage to take in enough fluids. It’s recommended to drink at least one 500 ml bottle per hour while riding and more if it’s hot. So after your ride make sure to take in lots of fluids. Once rehydrated order your favourite draft.

2) Refuel with clean nutrient dense foods, not processed junk

Related: Mediterranean diet found to improve endurance performance

3) Stretch or do some foam rolling, don’t fall asleep on the couch

Related: Six stretches for triathletes

Yes, rest is essential to your recovery, but hold off sleep just a bit longer. A great way to deal with muscle tightness and loosen up the body after your long ride is stretching. Stretching after a ride will prevent stiffness and help keep your body limber for future hard efforts. Stretching can also increase flexibility and therefore reduce the risk of injury, improve your joint mobility and help your muscles relax, so it’s an integral part of a good recovery. Add in some foam rolling too, to loosen up any stiff joints or aching muscles.

4) Sleep, don’t waste time clicking through the channels

Sleep is a recovery tool that you should take seriously. Being properly rested isn’t only important preparation for a big ride, but getting a good rest will help your body recover. After a long day of pedalling your body might be in overdrive, so open a book or listen to some music to wind down. Even a short 20-minute power nap will help you refresh and get ready for any shores you have in the PM.

Related: Five tips to sleep better at night

At night try to stay away from your phone, laptop or a TV screen in the hour before going to bed. Limit your alcohol consumption to have a good nights rest.

5) Active recovery, don’t hit the next session hard

Coffee group rides.

Just because your next workout is a swim or run, doesn’t give you the green light to go hard. Your body is still recovering, so make sure you keep it smooth. After a long ride, you may even feel like lying on the couch all day, but a little movement will do you some good.

Going for a leisurely ride the day after your big ride can help your body’s recovery process. Head to your favourite coffee shop or ride the scenic bike path near your home. Going for a swim will also help loosen up your muscles and swimmings low impact is good for your body.

A version of this story is available on Canadian Cycling Magazine.