Endurance sport recovery – Part 1

The concept of recovery may be interpreted in two ways within professional cycling and challenging levels of Endurance sports, including amateur ones (Long stroke and Marathon, Triathlon, Ironman, Ultra trail, Cross country skiing, Long-distance swimming etc.):

  1. ENERGY recovery, which refers to the Glycogen storage management and the processes connected to its depletion;
  2. the ORGANIZATIONAL-STRUCTURAL recovery achieved while resting (especially during the night) to repair and reorganize structures (cell walls, muscle fibers, tendons and articulations) that have been strained and stressed during exercise.

The first type of recovery, the energy one, can only be achieved during workouts, by planning after 90/120’ of exclusive hydration, the refueling of energy as the glycogen storage becomes depleted.

To understand the timing needed for providing this type of refueling it’s necessary to estimate how much glycogen is still available and also it is extremely important for the athlete to choose the right drink formulation taken as soon as he has reached the finishing line within and not later than 15-20’ in order to replenish to the full glycogen storages and block the soon to start catabolism which is stimulated when carbohydrates are becoming scarce.

The 350/400 g of glucose deposited as glycogen (removable glucose structure, but not completely because the matrix needs to be kept intact) may guarantee 1.100-1.300 KCal of energy autonomy that is added to the small energy quantities obtainable from fats (less and less as the aerobic threshold is reached or passed): this type of energetic self-sufficiency may occur between one hour and a half or three hours according to the type of Sport performed (running, swimming, cross country skiing, cycling), according to the run rate and physical traits of each athlete.

Generally speaking it’s important to start refueling not later that after two hours exercise by using appropriate solutions or energy bars containing maltodextrin (more complex foods should be avoided because they require energy intensive digestion activities that may compromise the performance and also cause regurgitation, vomit or intestinal disorders).

One portion of maltodextrin between 35-50 g every 30-45’ provides the necessary sugars needed for avoiding the catabolic phase and helping with hydration management because the large maltodextrin molecules have little impact on the osmotic liquid pressure and help in maintaining drink solutions hypotonic, which is an important condition for guaranteeing water absorption.

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