The Importance of Recovery Periods for Endurance Athletes
Katie Feldman, Kate’s Real Food Brand Ambassador, tells us what it’s like to be an endurance athlete; as a professional cross country skier racing for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold Team, Katie recently won the Baldy Hill Climb, took second in the Boulder Mountain Tour, and placed 6th in the American Birkebeiner. She was in Quebec City gearing up for her first World Cup competitions when the season was called off due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Katie has taken this change of pace in stride, using her time to get ready for more World Cup opportunities. She was able to return home safely and finish out the winter season enjoying the snow covered mountains of Ketchum, Idaho. As the snow began to melt away, Katie decided it was a good time to enjoy her two-week, mandatory recovery time to transition herself from the racing season into summer training.
Katie’s two week resting period has been defined as ‘long-term recovery’: recovery scheduled into a seasonal training program. Recovery time for endurance athletes is an important part of their exercise program. This recovery period is meant to help transition your physical and mental health into a new stage of training. It is not the time to abandon your healthy eating and exercise habits-- but to give your body and mind the rest they deserve. "Taking time off sounds easy," Katie tells us, "but it can be really challenging to break out of the training routine and let your body get the rest it needs".
Katie’s favorite aspect of the recovery period is going to sleep without setting an alarm. It is crucial that she take this time to listen to her body, and let her morning schedule be dictated naturally. When Katie finds herself sleeping nine plus hours a night, she knows it is the rest her body needs.
While there's no interval training or long days in the mountains during this time, Katie fills part of her day working on mobility. For true recovery, your muscles need an equal amount of attention as if you were strength training. A lot of her time cross country skiing is spent in a slightly hunched position, so posture-oriented exercises that focus on the hips and upper back are of particular use. Katie recommends foam rolling and stretching to preserve your range of motion.
Nutrition + Exercise
The resting period is less physically intensive for athletes, but that doesn’t mean nutrition and exercise should be completely abandoned. Overall, these athletes will not require their typical high calorie diets-- but should ultimately listen to their bodies when it comes to refueling. Making healthy food choices and choosing low-intensity exercise activities are great ways to get the most out of this essential transition. Katie considers Kate's Real Food Bars to be one of the best fuels for endurance athletes; they give her the nutrition and energy she needs whether training, racing, or recovering.
“During the training and racing season, I always have a Kate’s Real Food energy bar on me. If I don't end up polishing off the entire thing during the workout, I'll eat it right after in order to help maximize my recovery.”- Katie Feldman
Adapting from the racing season back into training is a big change, especially for a winter athlete moving into dry-land summer training. The two week recovery time for endurance athletes helps the body to ready itself for a new challenge. This time is a great opportunity to not only recover physically, but also mentally. Katie has spent this time “trying out some more time-intensive recipes and reading the books that have been sitting on [her] nightstand for too long.”
While Katie was bummed that her season came to an early close, she is so grateful to have this time to recuperate at home with family. She is enjoying her recovery period, but is excited to get back to training so she can chase that World Cup once more.
We at Kate’s Real Food are proud to support endurance athletes like Katie, during every race, season, and recovery period. We can’t wait to be a part of Katie’s many adventures that lie ahead. You can follow her journey here: https://www.instagram.com/katfeld/.