FitLegally’s, Rachel Brenke, shares her top rest and recovery tips and equipment for maximizing rest days and how to recover quicker while running a business life.
- Epsom Salt on Amazon (affiliate link)
- Marc Pro: #fitlegallypartner >> Use code FITLEGALLY for $32 off a Marc Pro and $47 off a Marc Pro Plus
- Roll Recovery R8 Roller
- Normatec Recovery
- REST Performance Mattress
I’m Rachel, I’m exhausted. Please help me figure out how to rest and recover properly. Guys, I’m not a professional, but I am a busy mom of five. I’m not a professional athlete, I’m still having to hack into the career stuff, too, while also trying to maintain a family and train. I got you. I’ll share with you my top tips to recovering properly so that all your training can be good miles and not junk miles.
Hey guys. Resting and recovering is one of the most important things that you can do in athletics, and parenting, and career professionalizing. Is that a word? I don’t know. Either way, we’re going to talk about resting and recovering today. I’m not a professional athlete, I’m not a trainer, I’m not a coach. I’m just going to share with you guys the top things that I’ve found help make me feel better, whether it physically has some science behind it, it at least is making me feel better up here, and that’s one of the most important things.
As a mom of five, a wife, a career professional, it’s hard to embrace rest and recovery. Maybe hard to find the time. So the first tip before I get into the actual items that help me to rest and recover is recognizing that it’s okay to take rest days. It’s okay to miss activities if you’re just worn down and you just don’t have time. Give yourself grace, give yourself forgiveness. We’re not getting paid for this. I know a lot of us are very Type A, like myself, we’re just very driven, and you often feel guilty when you miss exercise. Understand though, if you’re so worn out, your body’s telling you that it needs some rest.
There’s a balance on it there and a coach can help you with that, but understand that our bodies need rest to recover. And in fact, resting is one of the most important things you can do in your training. Having the right equipment is great, having the right nutrition is definitely important, but resting, and I don’t just mean sleep, I mean actually just resting and giving yourself a day or two, depending on what type of schedule you have, in order to just let your muscles and your body, including your mind, to rejuvenate. So please, embrace the rest days. I know for me, it’s really hard to try to rest. I do active recovery sometimes, but sometimes, you just need to lay around or just hang out with your family, and that’s what’s most important.
So perhaps the easiest and cheapest way that you can recover and help your muscles physically is through Epsom salts. Not sharing, you guys, for a specific brand. It’s so funny. My husband, by the way, total side note, I bought this, and I thought it was a small bag, and it came from Amazon, and my husband thought I had bought weights or something when he went to go pick up the box. Epsom salts are one of the best ways. I’m like an 80-year-old woman inside, and I like my nightly baths. Epsom salts can help for you to soak in and to help your muscles to be rejuvenated and to feel better and to take away some of the soreness. One of the cheapest ways that I think you can help to recover your muscles a bit because you can grab it anywhere. Walmart or any other local place. You can get it in small bags, big bags. I bought in bulk. That way, you can soak in it. It helps to alleviate the muscles. You can get it with lavender, or mint, or whatever your poison is for the aromatherapy as well, or just plain like I used.
The second item I have for you guys is foam rolling. I’m not going to get into the science of all of these items for you. You can go and google “foam rolling”. Just know that this hurts, but it’s really good to help work out your muscles. For me, I have trouble with getting IT band issues a lot, and if I’m not rolling and stretching, they pop right back up, and I’m back to having to take time off of running, and I don’t like that. I’m sure you don’t like it either. So we’re going up the scale here from cheapest recovery items to most expensive. This is number two, foam rollers. You can find them at your local Walmart, even at TJ Mask … TJ Mask. I have kids, can you tell? TJ Maxx or Target, Amazon, whatever it is.
I like the foam rollers that have the little nodules in here because if I do have a knot, I can just sit my muscle on it and slightly roll it, and I also have the flat portions for when I’m just rolling out my entire leg. So foam rolling is another great way to help your muscles. It takes out the tightness. I always like to do the Epsom salt bath and then do foam rolling, and I’m going to follow that up with a couple other items I want to share with you guys in a second, but foam rolling, yes, hurts, but is an evil necessity. Don’t hurt yourself, know your limits on that. It should be a good hurt, not a bad hurt. Don’t want you guys to hurt your muscles by doing it, but I definitely utilize it on my quads a lot to help keep the IT band stuff at bay. So foam rolling is number two.
Number three is very similar to foam rolling, it’s a bit different apparatus, and it’s a bit more expensive than foam rollers. Foam rollers, you can get them for like $15.00, $20.00. The roll recovery is upwards of $100.00. I’ve given them away before on the channel, maybe I’ll do it again. I find this to be a great item. I wasn’t sold on it at first when I first got it because I was thinking that I had to choose between foam rolling or the roll recovery, and for me, when I’m having to do a lot of IT band stuff, I wasn’t finding this to be as helpful, granted, it was, I didn’t truly know how to utilize it either at the time, but I found that it was just easier for me to lay on the foam roller, watch TV, and roll my legs out. With this, you have to be a bit more intentional, and I have found, though, this is a great lightweight thing you can take with you on travel. I travel a lot for work. I did another video on that for you guys so you can know how I fit in travel and work schedules with my training, so this is a great … it’s fairly lightweight that you can take with you. It just opens, you put your leg in. I think you could even do your arm, but it really helps to target the calves and the shins.
So for me, I use the foam roller more for the quads and for the hamstrings and for my hip flexors and my glutes. This, I utilize more for the calves and the shins, and you can use it for all the other areas, too, but I definitely much enjoy it. It’s very similar to foam rolling. There’s good hurt and there’s bad hurt, so make sure you just stick to the good hurt. But it’s from Roll Recovery. They’re not a Fit Legally partner, I just really love their product. Like I said, it’s a little bit expensive, but I think it’s well worth the money, especially since I travel a lot, I can just throw this in my bag, and it’s flat so that I can just take it into my suitcase.
All right, so number four, and this is from a Fit Legally partner, they sent me this product to try. I love it, and I begged them to let me keep it because I found it has been amazing when I have been recovering from IT band issues. The foam roller, the Epsom salts, and all that kind of stuff helps to work out the muscles, but then, once it’s broken up from the foam rolling, I utilize the Marc Pro unit, and it works to help flush that stuff out of my legs, and it’s really small. I can take it traveling. It’s different from a TENS machine, and I don’t want to botch the explanation, so I can link for you guys the information, you can find it at the Marc Pro website. It’s more of a muscle stimulator as opposed to a TENS machine.
A TENS machine does the tingling, this actually activates the actual muscle to help it keep moving. So my recovery flow, especially at height of Ironman training, I have the Epsom salt bath, then I get out and I’ll do the foam rolling/roller recovery, and now when I’m done with that, I will put this on my legs to help flush out all of the stuff that we have just broken up with the foam roller. I never foam roll cold. I’ve warmed my legs up a bit, whether by a warm bath with Epsom salt or with just shaking my legs out, doing a couple runs around the room, squats, and so forth. But this helps to flush out the rest of that yuckiness that I’m trying to get rid of out of my legs. I’m not sure how much the unit costs, couple hundred dollars. To me, I love how small and compact it is. This is the travel case, and you’ve got your wires and stuff, and this is the unit.
So there’s different types of units. I think I have the base one, and it’s fabulous. I absolutely love it. It has helped immensely. I mentioned my IT band issues. When I’ve been able to use the foam roller and stuff to work out the IT band issues, down on my quads, I always get glutes pain from it because it’s trying to overcompensate, I have weak glutes. It’s from having five kids, it’s from being lazy for so many years, and being lazy now and not working my glutes and strength training as much as I should, but I’m working on it. So I always utilize this a lot on the glutes because it helps them a bit to also recover, more than foam rolling or anything on the glutes can really help. So when I’m dealing with the IT band issue, I’ll do the foam rolling on the legs and then the Marc Pro on the glutes a bit more.
One of the products that you guys already know about, but I definitely want to share are the Normatec boots. I’m going to tell you guys, I was so skeptical of these. I absolutely was like, those recovery boots. I tried them at expos, I was like, oh, they feel great. Whatever. I was like, I don’t really think they’re going to work well. Whatever. I’ve already got my foam roller and my salt, and I’m good to go. Ironman World Championships last year, I don’t know, something broke within me. I was hurting the next day. I was so incredibly just … I was sunburned first of all, so I was shaking and feverish from that, and then my legs were just beat because it was the biggest elevation of bike I had ever done in my life, and I hobbled to the expo area to deposit my bike so it could be shipped home with TriBike Transport, and I couldn’t even walk that far. I said to my husband, I said, “Please take Arrow, get her going, and I’m just going to go over here and sit in the Normatec tent.” And of course, when you sit down, they slap these leg things on you, and they fired it up.
Amazing. I was like, buying it, right now. So I bought the system from them and it’s fairly small. This is the box itself, this is the power box. It can plug into the wall and power from the wall or it can battery charge power itself. People say you can travel with it. I don’t travel with it necessarily, because I’m typically limited on space and I would rather have the roller, but it’s a good thing you can travel with. You can carry this on the plane and put everything else underneath. But it connects to the legs, the boots fill up, and it’s much like the boots that you find when people have surgery and they’re trying to avoid having blood clots. It’s squeezing and filling up with air, and it’s helping to flush all that stuff out, the blood flow.
Amazing. I was sold. They are so smart. Good marketing, guys, to have it right there. Normatec is not a Fit Legally partner, so I’m not necessarily loyal to just this brand, it’s the only brand I do have. There’s Rapid Reboot and other ones out on the market, I have not compared those. These just happened to be time and place, and they saved me, my legs, and two weeks after Ironman World Champs, I did New York City Marathon. It was probably the worst I had ever hurt in my legs. A different kind of hurt than the Ironman hurt, right? Concrete jungle definitely killed my legs. Every single night, I had these on. I slept with them. I had it on the max on there, I would wake up and turn it back on and just let it run all night. I do know that these are used by a lot of people, they’re very expensive.
However, I have heard, I didn’t utilize this myself, but I have heard that some insurance companies will pay for this or your company, depending on if you have some kind of healthcare incentive. So check that out. I think I paid about $1300.00 for these. I had the open box deal at Kona because they were getting ready to pack up to go home since it was after the race, but definitely recommend, and I can’t believe I spent so many seasons without these. I utilize them now all the time, especially now that my strength training has increased, it definitely is helping my legs to feel recovered as well. So yeah, a lot of this is good to have type stuff.
We had the Epsom salts, we had the foam roller, the roll recovery roller, the Marc Pro muscle stimulation machine, and then the Normatec boots. I don’t think we necessarily need these in order to be successful in triathlons. I think they do help you to feel better, even if it’s just all up here, that is the majority of the battle, right?
The last item that I want to share with you guys and I’ve shared on my channel before is the REST Performance Mattress. It is a smart bed with smart technology, and it adjusts to your body. I’ve had sleep issues for years. I don’t really get good sleep. For the longest time, I thought it was because I was having babies, and they were newborns, I was in law school and all this sort of stuff, and I do think stress and a lot of that is a contributing factor, but then I was realizing that I also was sleeping in beds that were not conducive to my body, and the Rest Smart Bed, they are a Fit Legally partner, they sent it to me because I was super skeptical, guys, and they were like, “Just try it out. Just try it out.” And I was like, “I don’t know.” And then I saw Siri Lindley and Rinny Carfrae were testing it, and Andy Potts were testing it, and I’m like, “Okay. All right, guys. I’ll try it.” I mean, twist my arm to give me a new mattress to try.
But we had been through so many mattresses. I travel a lot, I sleep in all sorts of different beds, and I just was not finding anything that I liked or that I could even sleep well in. I was never … if you check my Garmin, I was not getting deep sleep prior to it, and it just was a mess, and I’ve never been one to medicate for sleep. Nothing against that, but I’d try Melatonin or sleep aids, but then I’m like, blah and trolling the whole next day, and it just wasn’t beneficial for me to get a little bit of sleep. So the mattress, I was like, “Fine, let me try the mattress. That’s great. Send it here.” I got it August of last year, so about two and a half months prior to Ironman World Championships, and, amazing. I sleep great because it adjusts to your body. You can set it either with the tablet to adjust before you go to bed, and you can turn it off, and it won’t adjust at all, or it can adjust whenever you roll.
I’m a side sleeper, and I’m a pancake. I’m flipping all night long from side to side, so for me, I sometimes have to turn it off. It doesn’t wake my husband, but it wakes me sometimes if I’m flipping from side to side, depending on how much caffeine I had during the day, if I had a lot, I’m already struggling to sleep anyways, but for the most part, I love it because it adjusts, it takes the weight and pain off of my hips. I mentioned having glute issues and it being weak. A lot of that I contribute to having the kids and having this Rest Performance Bed that helps to alleviate the pressure on that at night is great because then my hips don’t ache so bad when I’m training as well.
So just a recap on the items. I have the Epsom salt, I had the roller recovery as well as the foam roller that you can do, the Marc Pro electro muscle stimulation machine, recovery boots from Normatec or any other company, and then the Fit Legally partner, Rest Performance, their mattress. If you guys can ever try it out, check it out if you go to an expo. Most of these items, I know Normatec and Rest are at a lot of the Ironman expos. Try them out, check them out, and just give them a whirl. Let me know what you think. If you guys have any other rest tips, please feel free to send it to me.
My last tip is not a physical item, is to make sure, and it circles back around to what I said at the very beginning, make sure that you’re actually recovering and resting. Commit to a certain amount of hours of sleep tonight if you can, and also commit to taking recovery days. It’s going to make you a much happier, nicer person if you are feeling rested and recovered. And also being able to commit to those intense and long miles that you guys have ahead of you.