A Professional Athlete’s Road to Recovery

Hey everyone, Renée Tomlin here to talk about ‘recovery’. For a bit of background information, I’m a professional triathlete and member of Team USA in international competition. I’ve been competing in triathlon since 2014 with an Olympic focus, and ran competitively in college and at the elite level before moving over to endurance multisport. I’m fortunate to live, train and compete all over the world representing the USA.

So, you might be wondering what my background has to do with ‘recovery’. Well, quite simply, I wouldn’t be able to do my job — compete and execute performance — without the proper tools in my recovery tool box. Generally speaking, I’m out training 7 days a week, usually clocking 20–28 hours of exercise at various volumes and intensities. Between swimming, biking, running and gym work, recovery is the most crucial component in creating fitness, competitive edge and in maintaining health. For me, recovery includes nutrition, sleep, physical and massage therapy, hormone balance and the ‘switch off’ of all things triathlon.

In terms of nutrition, I’ve recently started working with a specialist from my Australian support team on strategies to maximize my training gains through food and energy availability. Having an understanding of carbs, protein, calcium, electrolytes, (just to name a few) plays a significant role in optimizing a nutrition plan to match the demands of training and competition. As an elite athlete, it’s challenging to keep up with all of stressors placed on your body — and that’s why I rely on vitamins like iron, vitamin C, and vitamin D to contribute to my nutritional intake. Sports drinks that contain carbs are also essential, as well as sport-specific electrolyte drinks, like Elyte-Sport, for pre-loading or between sessions. Both supplements and sports drinks act as ancillary agents in encouraging my body to prepare for training demands, recover from them, and foster training adaptations. They directly impact energy levels, nutritional absorption and healthy blood counts.

True life confession: it’s impossible as a professional athlete to always maintain an optimal level of ‘recovery’ as you’re always pressing physical and mental boundaries. Somewhere along the way you slip — that’s called being human. Just this past week I was diagnosed with a navicular stress fracture, barring me from early competition and resulting in a quick return back to the US for doctor appointments and to start, yes, in broader terms, the ‘recovery’ process. Now just as ever does ‘recovery’ play a significant role in achieving future goals. Fortunately, I have an incredible support team behind me in outlining these next-steps, many of which include a re-evaluation of nutrition and supplement intake. That being said, recovery — specifically in the field of nutrition and supplements — is an evolving space. As the body changes, grows, ages, heals, dietary requirements can shift. Stay tuned for an update of what this unfolding recovery process looks like and what tweaks are made!

Follow Renee’s journey on Twitter @ReneeTomlin