Recovery Week Nutrition: Or Lack Of
As I have mentioned several times lately, last week was a rest week for both myself and Neil following on from the Track World Championships. Recovery is just as important as training and this needs to be both physically and mentally. Therefore when i’m having time off the bike I also like to have time off from my strict nutrition routine. I still like to be generally healthy but I don’t force the issue. I stress less about ensuring we have 8-10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, I’m not as strict with the quality of protein sources and I relax my approach to providing a variety of carbohydrates. We eat out more, have a few drinks and indulge in plenty of sweet treats. Having fun is important so that we feel refreshed and ready to get back in to our routine when we need to. Throughout the week I try to avoid eating anything that I specifically associate with food I eat while training such as porridge, cereal bars and yogurt. I try to provide plenty of variety, especially at breakfast time, as thats the meal that gets most repetitive in training and I make sure I eat plenty of the foods I like most like cheese, chorizo and chocolate. The all important three C’s.
We had planned on kicking off our recovery week with a night away where we could have a couple of cocktails, and a nice dinner, as well as a cheeky afternoon tea thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately Neil crashing on the last day of racing put paid to this, so we had to rearrange it for the end of our down time. So instead of going off partying the Monday we got back from the World Champs, we just vegged out on the sofa. We had talked about ordering in a pizza but as our favourite pizza place doesn’t open on Mondays, I decided to cook us a tasty chorizo risotto and treat ourselves to a glass of wine with it. I do miss cooking when I am away, so I must admit I was quite happy to get back in to my kitchen.
Tuesday morning saw us indulging in breakfast out. This is a real luxury as when we are in full time training we really can’t justify going out for breakfast, as it would impact on our training sessions for the rest of the day. It can be frustrating as there are so many amazingly tasty things that can be eaten for breakfast. I have a very sweet tooth and so love things like pancakes and French toast. One of my all time favourite breakfasts is from a local cafe to me in Altrincham that serves a stack of pancakes with the whole works! Bacon, scrambled eggs, blueberries and maple syrup. Don’t knock it until you try it. So when I saw that the cafe we decided to go to had French toast with vanilla mascarpone cream, salted caramel sauce, granola sprinkle and berries on the menu, we simply had to try it. It was fabulous! In fact, it might have actually taken the top spot for my favourite ever breakfast. Yes it was very sweet but we had absolutely no regrets, and the addition of berries surely made it healthy? It cheered us both up no end and we left the cafe with massive smiles on our faces and very full tummies.
Wednesday saw us going out for lunch with friends, followed by a couple of cocktails and dinner with some of our team mates in the evening to celebrate. Doubling up like this is definitely a no-go when we are training, as it’s just not possible to justify the time and calorie intake. When we are all training together, sometimes it can get quite intense, so it’s nice to also spend some down time with each other. The stand out drink was the slightly weird, and incredibly sweet, concoction that Neil decided to try called a Bacon Bour-Bon Jovi, which contained bourbon, bacon bitters and maple syrup. I think the attraction was the slice of candied bacon that it came with. I probably would have tried it myself if it wasn’t for the fact it contained whisky and I’m not a whisky fan.
Saturday saw us going out for a very leisurely lunch of cheese and wine, followed by a stroll in Tatton Park. Cheese is something that both Neil and I adore. There are so many different varieties and I love trying new flavours so its great. Wine is something I’ve only recently started enjoying. In fact, it was thanks to going on our honeymoon in South Africa that we developed a liking for it. 5 years ago I would never have imagined myself indulging in a glass of wine, especially red wine, but now it’s a real pleasure. It was very pleasant sitting in a cafe feeling like we had all the time in the world to talk, eat and sip wine and we made the most of it. It seems like such a simple thing to do for an average person but for us it felt incredibly naughty as something like that is just not done as an athlete. The walk was followed by a rather large, but incredibly yummy slice of chocolate fudge cake, even though the walk had definitely not burnt off enough calories to warrant it.
On sunday we made a trip to Liverpool to have a late brunch with a friend. When I am training 6 days a week I have very little time to socialise with old friends. Fortunately I have an incredibly understanding group of friends that appreciate the commitments I have to make in order to be successful in sport and so when I do have the time, I like to make the most of it and see all the people I can. I could tell that I am starting to be ready to make the switch back to eating healthy again by my menu choice for this meal as I chose a healthier option of Shakshuka poached eggs on sourdough toast. Neil not so, as he went for the full works. I did however order a side of fried halloumi, so perhaps not quite ready to make the switch back.
Monday should technically have seen the end of my down week, as I started back training in the gym but as we still had to spend our rescheduled night away, we decided to eek it out for a couple of extra days. As part of the package we had booked we got both afternoon tea and dinner. Unusually though the hotel we were staying at offered a savoury style afternoon tea, as well as the tradional, so we decided to try this instead. It came with a mini burger, a sausage roll, a fish goujon, a mini chicken and leek pie and chips. Followed by cheese and crackers, an Eccles cake and a chocolate brownie. It was really fun, tasty and very filling! Fortunately we had it early so that we had plenty of time to relax and let it digest before dinner.
The best thing about staying in a hotel when not in training is the breakfast the following morning. This one was particularly good as there was the continental buffet but anything cooked was made fresh to order. I opted for the scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on an English toasted muffin, which was quite simply delicious, followed by a cheeky couple of pastries. I love croissants, especially when they are fresh, still crispy and flaky. However it is not something you can justify having for breakfast when you are training, as nutritionally they are questionable.
That brings to an end my down time. As you can see when I am not living life as an elite athlete my diet is far from perfect, but train hard, play hard. It’s definitely been a blow out week filled with lots of added calories. This however is very much a one off week and there is no way I could keep it up. I’m now feeling ready to settle back in to my usual routine. I feel refreshed both mentally and physically. I have satisfied my craving for unhealthy food and now feel ready to focus and train for the road racing season ahead on the tandem. I even find myself craving standard food again like porridge, berries, chicken, hummus, greek yogurt and kale, but obviously not all at the same time.
Thank you for reading and i’m sorry if i’ve made you hungry.