At Optimum Nutrition, we understand just how important it is to let your body recover between periods of excessive exercise or competition. Someone else who knows all about recovery is Irish Olympic hurdler Thomas Barr! He competed at the European indoor athletics last week and did his country proud. We sat down with him recently to ask him all about how an elite athlete recovers:
How important is effective recovery?
It is in the recovery period after a training session that the benefits of training are locked in, and the body regulates to be able to train again the following day. In training, we shock the body. Push it to the limits, to new boundaries that it is not accustomed to. It is in the recovery period that the body then accustoms itself to the training load and becomes stronger. This has to be done incrementally, otherwise the boundaries are pushed too far and we can end up fatigued or run-down, or even injured - this is where recovery periods are vital!
What do you do to recover?
I need to let my muscles repair the micro tears which occur during training and racing, and to replenish my energy systems, primarily the anaerobic system which relies on carbs for fuel in sprinting.
What are the key nutrients you need to hit after a race and how do you get these?
It is essential for me to get in simple carbohydrates to replenish my anaerobic system, and some protein to repair my muscles. After every sprinting session and race I make sure to get in an ON recovery Shake which has the right amount of carbs and protein in one hit and is easy to drink and digest quickly to help expedite the recovery process.
When a championship has races just days apart what is the most important thing you do to help your body recover?
Getting fuel in ASAP in the form of an ON recovery shake with both carbs and protein to replenish my energy systems and repair the muscles, then, a good warm down and trip to the massage therapist for a flush out.
Do you train between championship races?
Generally championship races are on consecutive days, so there is no need to train in between rounds, it allows me to save my energy for the job at hand thankfully!
What is the difference in your diet between a training day and your diet on a competition day?
In an effort to not upset the body or my stomach on race day when there are enough nerves to do that anyway, I generally try to keep my diet similar on training days and competition days, so that the body is accustomed to the eating and sprinting regime. To read more about how you can alternate your diet from training to competition days, read our race day diet blog post.
Has your training ever altered over time?
For sure! Over the course of the last 9 years my team of my track coaches, Hayley and Drew, gym coach Tommy, physio Emma and massage therapist James has been unchanged - if it ain't broke don't fix it, and it’s been working for me! While the training ethos and basis remains relatively the same - lots of hard work - my team and I are constantly adapting to what best suits my body and needs. Drew is a Professor of biomechanics and so is on top of the latest research when it comes to sprinting, which helps guide new training techniques. In the last few years, a lot of my gym and strengthening exercises have been based around my weaknesses and injury history, which has evolved. As well as evolving training for performance benefits, changing things up always makes it interesting for someone with as short an attention span as myself!
With his eyes now firmly set on Tokyo 2020, it will be interesting to see how Barr’s training and recovery heats up in the coming months. Make sure you follow his journey on his Instagram! If you’re looking to recover like an Olympian, then do it right with our Gold Standard Whey or Gold Standard Plant Protein.