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Recovery rides: Fact or Fiction? I know racers who are out(22 posts)

Recovery rides: Fact or Fiction? I know racers who are outPaul
Aug 20, 2002 4:03 AM
the next day after a hard race just spinning on what they call "a recovery ride". If muscles are sore, they should be rested.
Stretching after a ride is as important as before a ride.

After a real hard 60 mile ride doing hills in 98 deg temps.Sunday, I stretched afterwards, ate a lot of protein, carbs, and salt. Rode Monday thinking I would do a recovery ride, and felt like I hadn't ridden all week.

I don't know if I believe in a recovery ride.
This swims against the tide of correct thought ...scottfree
Aug 20, 2002 4:41 AM
But at my age (50) (and I've been coming to this opinion for several years now) real recovery seems to only take place if I take a day (or more) completely off the bike.

I still believe in easy days after hard days as a general rule, and what feels like partial recovery occurs; but at least one day a week and on any occasion I feel the need for real recovery/adaptation, the bike and I stay home.

I took six days completely off last month after three seriously hard weeks, and when I got back on the bike I was FLYING (well, as much as someone in my advanced state of decrepitude can fly.)

I'm not sure 'recovery rides' are well-named. Seems like just common sense: After you've seriously busted your ass, you take it a little easy next time out. But whether those rides are actually hastening recovery, this old body tells me to doubt.
I have had a similar experience.Sintesi
Aug 20, 2002 6:06 AM
After I reach a certain fitness level I never worry about missing a week or so anymore. I always seem stronger when I hop back on the bike after an extended period of no excercise. All the aches and pains are gone and the legs feel file tree trunks. Even after a vacation when all I've done is eat fatty food and drink beer all day. It might be age related, I'm in my late thirties, maybe I need fuller recovery.

On a side note tho, most people do not take it easy enough on "recovery rides" and over do it. Just because it feels easy doesn't mean your doing it right. When I think recovery spin, I think 39X23 gearing in the flats and taking that easy to boot - that's hard to do! HR should be in the 120s or lower for the avg Joe.
Perhaps they are for Type A personalities needing to slow down?Tig
Aug 20, 2002 7:25 AM
I've heard that coaches deal with 2 basic types of riders: those who need help getting into shape for events, and those who are in good shape and ride so much that they need to structure their rides and focus their energy effectively. Perhaps recovery rides are for the latter?

I thought I was the only one who didn't religiously use recovery rides. I almost felt guilty, but decided to listen to my body instead. Besides, unlike when I was a "serious racer" in my 20's, I like to ride for the enjoyment as well as pushing my fitness level. I don't have to ride all the time anymore! I don't care if my annual mileage is below 10,000 or even 6,000 miles anymore either.
re: Recovery rides: Fact or Fiction? I know racers who are outfbg111
Aug 20, 2002 4:55 AM
Perhaps recovery rides help burn away any excess lactic acid that's still lingering in your system after a hard ride? That's about the only rationalization I can think of, but not sure if it's legit.
re: Recovery rides: Fact or Fiction? I know racers who are outrbb
Aug 15, 2002 3:11 PM
My coach and I refer to these rides as "spinning out the silly's". It makes alot of sense and it actually helps in the repair by "thinning" the lactic acid, it basically gets the blood flowing again so your muscles can repair themselves. Stretching is a MUST, always.
Some times after a very hard workout on the bike I will easy spin that night for @10-20minutes or set the bike up in the trainer or on the rollers and just spin easy for the same time. Feels good and helps recuperation.
Take care
How long does lactic acid stay in the muscle? Should spinningPaul
Aug 20, 2002 6:39 AM
be done immediately after a hard ride? Thinking the next day is too late.

Yes, lactic acid levels do not remain elevated...Wayne
Aug 20, 2002 8:06 AM
for very long after a supra-threshold effort during a ride or after the ride is over. Certainly shouldn't be elevated the next day.
old school thought and lactic acidtheBreeze
Aug 20, 2002 5:38 PM
Lactic acid does not get stored in the muscle tissue after exercise. It is oxidized within the muscle fibers or transported to the liver where it is converted to glucose. This is called the Cori cycle. Blood lactate values have been found to peak about 5 min after stopping exercise and return to normal pre-exercise levels within an hour. (Gollnick, Exercise intensity, training diet and lactate concentrations in muscle and blood. Med.Sci.Sports Exerc.18:334-340. 1986)

They found that light activity immediatly post-exercise helped clear lactate faster (cool-down) and more highly trained individuals can clear it faster than untrained.

So a next day "recovery ride" doesn't get rid of lactic acid, it's already gone.

It has been shown that as we age we do not recover from hard bouts of exercise as quickley. So maybe a 25 year-old can go ride a light day and still recover from a hard race or training session. A 45 year-old may do better taking the day off. I tell all my clients no matter how "in shape" they are that they need to take one day a week completly off.

Do whatever works for you.
Thanks, spinning the last few miles will probably work. This isPaul
Aug 21, 2002 6:07 AM
the real "recovery ride", not the next day. This concept of a recovery ride the next day never made sense to me. If you're beat up, just rest until muscles feel better.
I agree.MXL02
Aug 20, 2002 5:27 AM
I started several weeks ago riding both Sat and Sun reaching a total of about 120 miles. The Sat ride is 65 miles of hills in 90 - 100 degree heat. After that, I noticed I couldn't answer the bell for early morning commutes or spinning class Mon or Tues this week. I felt guilty about this at first, but finally decided, what the heck, I do this for enjoyment. Don't do it if it ain't fun. So tomorrow (Wed) I will start commuting again...ride slow just to get my legs warm and stretch out real good afterward. By Sat I will be ready to hammer again.
Here's what I ride on recovery daysOffTheBack
Aug 20, 2002 6:08 AM
where are the reflectors? nmmr_spin
Aug 20, 2002 6:21 AM
Carbon seatpost for a perfect match, andCrankist
Aug 20, 2002 7:33 AM
compliments on the excellent hydration system.
I think the idea is to get blood flowingDougSloan
Aug 20, 2002 7:34 AM
I think the idea behind recovery rides vs. doing nothing is to get the blood flowing to help clean out and repair tissues. Sort of like sitting in whirlpool. It is purely about recovery, not training.

The trick is to do this without causing further injury. (Yes, all hard riding is injurious; the repair process is when you get stronger.) I think most people don't have the discipline or desire to ride slowly enough to do a true recovery ride. I have found that they work, if I do them correctly. This means riding *very* slowly and no very long, either, maybe just 10-15 miles at 14 mph, never pushing up a hill.

I think for many people their pride will not allow them to do this. It's tough to set out in team uniform on a Record equipped C40 or Ultimate and ride so slowly that a 250 pound guy on a mountain bike blows by (and then then fat guy gets on some website bragging about blowing away some poseur on a C40). If you find you can't do it, get a bike like a Bianchi Milano and go incognito, wearing baggy shorts and a plain jersey. No one will suspect a thing.

I find recovery rides difficult to do, not because of the speed, but because my time is so limited. I feel I'm better off using my riding time solely for training hard, and then devoting what would be my recovery ride time to other things, like family and work. Just another way that time limitations probably prevent better performance than anything else.

I think Doug has hit it, but even...Wayne
Aug 20, 2002 8:10 AM
very easy recovery rides still probably provide a stimulus for increased vascularization of the muscle and increased oxidative enzymes/mitochondria, etc. It doesn't take much to stimulate the body to adapt to endurance exercise. So recovery rides provide this stimulus without overly taxing the system, and may improve recovery by promoting blood flow to the muscles.
Interesting point on blood flow. Article on lactic acid (long).Paul
Aug 20, 2002 9:38 AM

Irving, Texas, (October 24, 2001) - A human clinical study reported in the fall issue of
The Journal of Medicinal Food has shown that "lactic acid" was reduced 50% during
strenuous exercise in athletes who took Microhydrin®, a mineral antioxidant marketed
by Royal BodyCare, Inc. (ROBE OTC: BB) of Irving, Texas.

Lactic acid is a natural compound produced in the "muscles" during exercise. When it
accumulates to high levels it can be one of the causes of painful muscle cramps,
spasms, sore muscles and can prolong recovery time between workouts. Lactic acid
increase frequently forces athletes to leave the field of play to sit out the game until the
muscle cramps are relieved. It can also affect men and women in fitness training.

The study was conducted with healthy male bicyclists who took four capsules of
Microhydrin® before racing on stationary bicycles during a 40 K trial run compared to
bicyclists who took placebos. One week later the product group took placebos and the
placebo group took the product. The study was conducted under the supervision of Dr.
Peter Raven, Professor of the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of
North Texas Health Science Center.

Leonard Smith, MD, a co-author of the paper stated, "The study showed a statistically
significant decrease in lactic acid in athletes during exercise suggesting the product
may be beneficial in reducing muscle cramps and hastening muscle recovery.

These results agreed with an earlier trial by the Nutritional Coach of the University of
Nebraska football team. He gave the players Microhydrin® throughout the 1999
season, from August training through the January Fiesta Bowl. He reported that when
a player was benched with muscle cramps he gave them three capsules in water, and
they returned to play sooner than he had observed previously.

Antioxidants are molecules that easily release electrons neutralizing electron-deficient
compounds known as oxidized free radicals. High levels of free radicals develop from
strenuous exercise, unhealthy diets, toxins, air, water, or food pollution, and stress.
"Free radicals" cause damage to vital tissues that tend to expedite the signs of aging.

Antioxidants are present in raw, fresh fruits and vegetables, and in dietary
supplements including vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and selenium.

It seems if you eat correctly, blood carrying these antioxidants will speed up recovery.
Interesting point on blood flow. Article on lactic acid (long).Jon Billheimer
Aug 20, 2002 9:54 AM
Interesting article...sort of. Lactic acid, though, is not a free radical, so I don't understand the connection between the ingestion of an antioxidant and immediate reduction of lactic acid. Also, current biochemistry disputes the notion that lactic acidosis is the cause of muscle soreness. Paul, do you know if this study was peer reviewed? Probably not, since it was sponsored by the company manufacturing the product.
Don't know about the peer review. Take with a grain of salt nmPaul
Aug 20, 2002 10:07 AM
Yeah, that looks like junk science...Wayne
Aug 20, 2002 10:24 AM
they make a number of claims that simply aren't true. I've never seen lactic acid implicated as a causitive agent of cramps. The role that lactic acid plays in fatigue has even been questioned recently, and it's probably not the primary limiter in endurance exercise. But it's easily measured and correlates with exercise intensity which led to it's "bad" reputation. I think it will be a very long time before people stop talking about lactic acid as the cause of fatigue.
Yeah, that looks like junk science...Jon Billheimer
Aug 20, 2002 11:11 AM

Last year I read a rather long peer review of some work that purported to show that lactic acid is not the limiter to contractility within the muscle cell. Although I couldn't understand the equations that were involved the conclusion was that lactic acidosis occurs at virtually the same time as hydrogen electrons, I believe, jump onto the ATP binding sites on the myosin fibres, screwing up muscle function. So there's a correlation between the two events, but no causation. The cell's greater interior acidity, too, affects contractility.

From a training or functional perspective aerobic capacity and clearance rates seem to be more the issue. I have no idea what antioxidant levels would have to do with any of this.
Like all science, the more you know...Wayne
Aug 21, 2002 10:56 AM
the less clear things become. The lab I work in studies the fatigue associated with electrical stimulation of muscle, which is a big limiter for spinal cord injury people trying to use it to walk, etc.
The fatigue literature we read is definitely more on the cellular, basic science end of it not the whole body, exercise physiology end of it.
From the cellular perspective it appears that alterations in Calcium dynamics is what leads to a loss of force generating ability. Probably Pi and/or Mg interfere with either re-uptake or release of Ca from the sarcoplasmic reticulum.
How this relates to the whole body during exercise I'm not sure. Probably the main limiters in endurance type sports are the maximal rate a muscle can produce ATP (as a whole) which would essentially be limited by the glycolytic and more importantly the oxidative capacity of that muscle. And then also related to this would be glycogen depletion from muscle cells, since once this occurs that cells essentially done producing force until it's replenished.