5 Ways to Recover Like a Pro Athlete

Sleep on It

Many professional athletes sleep upward of nine to 10 hours a night (plus post-workout naps), and they're not doing it because of laziness. Sleep is when most of your body's recovery takes place. This is easier said than done for most age-group athletes who are juggling work, kids and training, but there are some sleep hacks you can use to make a difference in the quality of sleep you're getting.

Try getting into bed the same time every night, and waking up at the same time (or within an hour of it on weekends). Avoid watching TV or looking at a computer screen for an hour prior to going to sleep, as LCD screen light can stimulate your brain and make falling asleep harder.

Most importantly, if you're thinking of making due with five hours of sleep just to hit that early morning Masters workout—don't. Sleep is more important than any single workout you might complete, especially one done under massive fatigue.

More: Triathletes Who Sleep Better, Train Better

Create Your Own "Race Entourage"

While pro athletes have a bevy of people on-hand to help them recover after a race, sometimes we mere mortals are stuck heading off to coach our kid's soccer game directly after crossing the finish line. This can make proper post-race recovery hard—but not if you get a little imaginative.

Ask your spouse or partner to bring you some ice, compression socks and a healthy protein snack post race, and find a nice spot away from the finish line festivities where you can do some foam rolling, ice your muscles and spend some nice time with them. Spectating at a triathlon or marathon is hard work, too, so take the time to thank them and ask them about how they're doing.

Make your active recovery days even more rewarding by going for a stroll or easy bike ride with your kids. By involving your "entourage" in your racing and training life, you keep it light and fun for the whole family, and they'll be more likely to want to come and support you at more races.

Schedule Recovery Days

Whether you're training for an IRONMAN or dipping your toes in the sport of triathlon for the first time, it's easy to get sucked into the over-training mentality. While being active every day is a positive thing, you should always keep in mind that scheduled recovery days are an essential part of any training plan.

Taking off one day a week to recharge your muscles and your mind will keep you happier, healthier and stronger in the long run. If you don't take days off, you risk falling into an over-trained state, where you might feel as if you're giving 100 percent in your workouts, but due to accumulated fatigue, you're only putting out 75 percent, which will limit and even backtrack many of your performance gains and often lead to injury or illness.

If you find that you feel antsy taking a day off, try scheduling them with a training buddy. Not only can you hold one another accountable, but you can also make plans to meet up for coffee or an easy stretch class.

More: How Sleep Improves Cardio Performance

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About the Author

Susan Grant Legacki

Susan Grant Legacki is the founding editor of LAVA Magazine, and currently serves as the magazine's features and online editor. Prior to joining LAVA, she worked as a Senior Editor at Inside Triathlon and Triathlete Magazine. She is an Ironman finisher, Boston-qualifying marathoner, certified Pilates instructor—and a fitness and nutrition enthusiast. You can read more about her on Susanegrant.com and follow her on Twitter at @susanglegacki.
Susan Grant Legacki is the founding editor of LAVA Magazine, and currently serves as the magazine's features and online editor. Prior to joining LAVA, she worked as a Senior Editor at Inside Triathlon and Triathlete Magazine. She is an Ironman finisher, Boston-qualifying marathoner, certified Pilates instructor—and a fitness and nutrition enthusiast. You can read more about her on Susanegrant.com and follow her on Twitter at @susanglegacki.

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