Post-Ride Recovery

Over the years, watching hundreds of athletes train, it’s become clear that for most, the limiter for performance is how much training they can handle. The upper limit is not based purely on how many hours they have available to train. The ability to recover from training is equally or maybe more important. Recovery ability probably has an unalterable genetic component, but post-training activities have a huge impact as well. This handout describes lists some things that have been proven by experience to boost performance by improving recovery. Have a look and adopt any of these post-training activities that you aren’t doing already.

The harder you train, the more essential recovery becomes, but after a ride you may not be thinking at your best, so make habits of post-ride routines. Here’s a schedule to follow:


Before the ride:

  • Set up your post ride nutrition (make sandwich, mix drink, cook brown rice…)
  • In miserable weather, make your trainer accessible for your cool-down ride.

During the Ride:

  • Warm up generously before going hard to reduce muscle damage and fatigue.
  • Go only as hard as needed to reach the day’s goals. Save energy for the next ride or race.

After the race or the hard part of the ride but before you dismount:

  • At a race, quickly go to the car get dry clothing, a bottle of recovery drink and a snack.
  • Switch to low gears and Recovery Zone heart rates and roll easily for at least 15 minutes
    on the road, trail or trainer.
  • Eat a final big bite of carbohydrate rich food, about 100 calories worth in the last few
    minutes so you won’t be starving when you get near a fridge.
  • Drink most of a bottle of water or exercise drink.

As soon as you get off the bike:

  • Get a snack or recovery drink of ~100 calories if you didn’t get one late in ride
  • Get a drink if you didn’t get a big one near the end of the ride
  • Grab the bike computer or heart monitor and set it aside for down-loading
  • After you snack and drink but before you shower, squirt the bike with a hose and rub with a cleaning brush or rag if it is very dirty, and lube the chain (unless you have a mechanic to do it for you.) Make this a quick cleaning. Save deep cleaning and maintenance later.
  • Shower and get in dry clothing warm enough that you will be comfortable after your body cools post-ride. Put on a hat or slippers if it’s cold.

Once you are dressed:

  • Have a balanced lunch with carbs, protein, vegetables and fruit.
  • Spend at least a half hour with your legs up.
  • While legs are up, give yourself a leg massage. If the ride was hard, do an ice massage.
  • Upload your heart rate or power files, write in your journal.
  • If you are sleepy or if the ride was hard, take a nap.
  • Some time during the day, stretch.
  • Eat well the rest of the day and get to bed early.

View this article as a PDF handout: Guide to Post Ride Recovery