Regeneration is the body's renewal program. The great thing about it is that it works on its own by trying to restore damaged cells, tissues or organs and their functions. Still, you can speed up the process to get back to training sooner. The regeneration process can be divided into three parts:
1) Active regeneration = movement
2) Passive regeneration = rest
These three building blocks combined provide a good rest. The only question is: how do you fit these puzzle together so that you can compete at higher levels and recover faster? This recovery schedule will show you how to put the building blocks together and get you back to training at no time.
Please note: The following recommendations are purely exemplary. Neither the performance class of the runner nor the competition distance is considered. This roadmap is only intended to capture the general functioning of regeneration.
1. Regeneration: One week before the competition
The training load before a competition decreases by around 30% of the previous week's workload. In addition, hardly any intensive units should be completed (highly depends on the athletes level as there are studies suggesting to keep intensity and frequency but decreasing the volume). After each workout follows a short stretching (depending on the intensity level it might make sense to seperate stretching from the actual workout), as well as a rolling of the fascia. Work on each muscle for about 30 seconds (I like to roll every day for about 30 minutes).
The food should be focused on vegetables, complex carbohydrates, fish and meat from organic farming. Sidenote: The animals should be grass-fed, as there is a higher proportion of omega-3 fatty acids in the meat. Omega-3 fatty acids are important to cure inflammatory processes in the body. Ideal is a ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids of 1 to 5(3). This relation can be reachedby eating 2-3 times sea fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring) a week (make sure it´s not farm fish). - There are some good vegetarian alternatives like seeds, nuts, winter squash,...)
2. Day of the competition - crossing the finish line
After a competition, the immune system needs up to 72 hours to be fully functional again (depending on how hard you went, time etc). The proportion of white blood cells - important for immunodeficiency increases initially shortly after intensive exercise, but drops dramatically in just a few hours. It follows an increased susceptibility to infection and cold. Therefore, dry clothing should be worn immediately after the finish line.
In addition, it is recommended to fill the glycogen stores with carbohydrates. Carbohydrates and the associated increase in insulin levels strengthen the immune system and increase the activity of scavenger cells that repel bacteria. A preferred recovery shake should contain a good amount of protein to support the immune functions and help rebuild structures (if you have a few minutes of time you should mix it based on the intensity, weight, and other personal factors). The natural alternative is lean curd. Most important nutrition: water - drink enough!
3. Day of the competition - 30 minutes after the finish
Cool down for 12-15 minutes. Run at a moderate pace (50-60% maxHR). The advantage of relaxed running after the race: The blood flow is boosted, metabolites removed faster. Cardiovascular system and muscles have time to relax. Eccentric loads should be avoided. Again - make sure you drink enough to refill.