7 Tips for Recovery After Your Mountain Workout
Mountain running, biking, hiking, and climbing offer so much more than a simple workout. Not only do these workouts help us get our fitness fix, but when we exercise in the mountains we get to tap into the mental and emotional benefits of being in nature, the rewarding challenge of solitude, and the time spent unplugged from phones and screens.
Just as mountain fitness adventures take a particular kind of prep and planning (downloading maps, bringing that extra layer, and letting your partner or friend know exactly where you’re going in case of emergency) – we also need to bring a particular level of care and attention to recovery after a day spent adventuring in the mountains. We typically exert far more wear and tear on muscles and use far more energy (and burn more calories!) on a mountain adventure than one in the gym. This makes your recovery practice critical. Taking the steps for a mindful and active recovery means that you’ll be able to embark on these mountain adventures far more frequently – a little goes a long way!
Try these 7 basic tips for your recovery after a day spent on the trail:
Rehydrate: Immediately after returning to your vehicle or home, drink at least 8-12 oz of water. If you’ve been out for more than 2 hours, add an electrolyte to your recovery bottle. I like to keep a bottle in a cooler in my vehicle for an easy drink once I’m done.
Take in protein: Immediately after your workout, take in a protein to help your muscle recovery. My go-to is a single-serve chocolate milk or a pre-made smoothie with almond butter included. Again, I’ll keep these items in a cooler in my car.
Wait to celebrate: If you’re with friends, sometimes the cooler with the microbrews is the first thing everyone is drawn to after a long workout. I’m OK with having 1 celebratory beer, but do it AFTER steps 1 and 2 above. And if you’re going to have more than one beer, wait until after a full recovery meal to have your second one. Alcohol is a diuretic, and can lead to more dehydration.
Eat to recover: You should have a FULL recovery meal within 2 hours of completing your mountain workout. This meal should include a protein + carb combination. Think 2-3 cupped handfuls of carbs for women (4-5 cupped handfuls for men), and 1-2 palm-sized portions of protein for women (2-3 for men). Ideas: Chili, burger, chicken with rice.
Stick to real food and real drink for recovery: I.e., no sugary gatorades and no bags of chips!
Stretch and mobilize: This is an important step that many of us skip. And especially for those of us over 40, a simple post-workout stretch or mobility routine is critical to your recovery. Try a simple lunge stretch on either side, bring alternate knee to chest in a few reps, or lie in a reclined twist.
Get your sleep: After a long day in the mountains, sleep is essential to recovery to get you ready to do the whole thing over again the next day. Our muscles repair themselves while we sleep and rebuild the essential amino acids. Shoot for 8-9 hours if possible and recognize that if you keep on celebrating after the parking lot beer that alcohol can be a huge disruptor to your sleep and set you back for the next day.
What’s your recovery strategy? Let me know!