Peloton's Robin Arzón Is Taking Her Postpartum Recovery Routine Very Seriously
"I have not always been a recovery pro," says ultramarathoner, Peloton star, and new mother Robin Arzón. "I learned the hard way," she says. "When I was training for my first 50-mile ultramarathon, I thought more volume; I thought more for the sake of more was better. My central nervous system was so taxed by all the volume that I started to actually lose the love of running, and that was a huge wake up call."
This lesson came front and center yet again during Arzón's journey through pregnancy and post-natal recovery.
"Now that I'm back to the hustle, trying to recover and reclaim and rebuild after pregnancy — picking up weights again, doing sprints again — my body is getting reactivated. So I'm sore, and it's humbling, because I'm sore using weights that are much lighter than even what I used when I was pregnant." (Related: How Peloton Is Working to Change the Narrative On Prenatal Fitness)
As such, Arzón has been taking her time recovering since having her daughter Athena in March, and will make her much-anticipated return to the virtual Peloton stage during this weekend's "All for One" Music Festival event.
Whether you've recently had a baby (congrats!) or are coming back from an injury or period of fewer workouts (ahem, quarantine), Arzón has some advice for you. Keep reading to hear about her recovery philosophy, how she's tapping into it now more than ever, and her go-to methods for post-workout rehab.
Slowing Down to Speed Up
Arzón's current postpartum recovery and fitness strategy has nothing to do with 'bouncing back.' Instead, "I'm honoring my body, listening to it, and slowing down so I can speed up," she says. "I'm taking those moments when my daughter is napping; these moments of self care are critically important." (Related: Why I Refuse to Feel Guilty for Working Out While My Baby Naps)
"Pressing the pause button actually is part of our training," she says, "And it takes a lot of confidence. If you think about the confidence that a full rest day requires, that should make an athlete proud. I have been proud in the past few years; I've been able to increase my volume and intensity without injury, because I did it smartly. That includes taking recovery days, no workouts, sometimes it's just sitting on the couch. Being able to sit with yourself is actually a great achievement."
"To maximize your performance and get the most out of all the hard work you're putting in, complement [your workouts] with times when you take complete rest, active recovery, massage, recovered progressive technology like using hybridized tools." All of this, she says, will allow you to "run faster and farther, lift heavier, go more intensely on the bike — you can't really achieve that intensity without having recovery moments."
When she was feeling burnt out during ultramarathon training, she turned things around with recovery. "I started incorporating stretching after my runs (which I really wasn't consistent with before), and doing one full recovery day a week — that made a huge difference. I actually got excited for these long runs, and I got excited about the finish line again." (Related: How I Finally Learned to Love Rest Days)
The Risks of Skipping Recovery
One of Arzón's biggest lessons: It's not just good to have a recovery program, but it's detrimental to not have one. She explains that if you're skipping recovery or have a scant recovery regimen, you'll be increasing your injury risk, impacting your performance, and stunting your growth as an athlete. "It impacts your performance; you're not going to be able to go 100-percent during every training session," she says. (Related: Megan Rapinoe On Why Recovery Is Even More Important Than Training)
But it's not just about performance. Finding the balance between working hard and recovering hard can mean keeping your body in prime shape to live a long, healthy life. "I want to be in this for the long game; I want to be hustling and moving well into my 80s and 90s and beyond." This is where recovery plays a role, she explains. "You have to be tuned into not only how you're feeling physically, but also the tax that this can take on your mental health and your approach to movement, which ultimately should be fun."
Her Postpartum Recovery Gameplan
There have been some key differences in Arzón's program now that she's a mother. "I didn't realize that in caring for my daughter, my traps, my shoulders, and my posture would be so greatly affected," she shares. "So I've actually been using a lot of recovery devices to get into my mid back and my shoulders… very acute kind of 'mommy postural things.'" She also has learned the ultimate mom-lesson of multitasking, which, in this case, includes "throwing NormaTec boots on when breastfeeding."
"My favorite way to recover, in general, is not working out," she says. "I would gladly sit on the couch and watch a Netflix marathon or something on television, and just focus on the mental game. I think that when you're able to go inward — especially when slowing down or completely stopping on a rest day — that allows me to check in with how I'm feeling and how deeply I've been breathing."
"The beauty of recovery is that you don't need to overcomplicate it; do what you have access to, and try a bunch of different things, and see what works for you," recommends Arzón, who's recently joined the Hyperice athlete roster. "Consistency is really the main thing — be as consistent with your recoveries as you are with your workouts."
Alright, so step one: Put on Schitt's Creek or a 20-minute podcast. Coach's orders. It's one of her go-tos (and we can confirm — it's a great recovery day show).
If you find active recovery (stretching, foam rolling) boring, she feels similarly, and uses a quick TV show or similar "treat" to bribe herself. "Using that as a kind of 'carrot' got me to be a little bit more consistent with my stretching and my recovery routine."
Robin Arzón's Favorite Recovery Products
NormaTec Pulse 2.0 Leg Recovery System
If you've got a pair of NormaTec boots (a Hyperice product) at home — or have been considering getting some — these are pretty killer. "You could be watching TV, listening to a podcast, doing just about anything... sitting on your bed, talking on the phone, catching up with friends, scrolling on Instagram, all while using the compression to eliminate soreness and aid recovery." (Arzón isn't the only celeb fan; Lady Gaga and Olympic athletes like Simone Biles also swear by these boots for sore legs.)
Hypervolt Bluetooth Handheld Percussion Massage Gun
Amp up your myofascial release (aka self-massage) with Arzón's all time favorite recovery tool, the Hypervolt, which is also made by Hyperice. "I swear by it, especially on heavy lifting days. You can get into something as specific as an ankle, or your forearm then of course, larger muscles. My quads are always torn up, especially from sprinting on the bike and doing heavy squats and heavy deadlifts." (Shop more of the best massage guns for muscle recovery right here.)
Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt Bath
Tried and true, epsom salt baths are one of Arzón's favorites. Try these Dr. Teal's blends for a soak with an aromatherapy component. (Here's more on how epsom salts can make for the perfect workout recovery bath.)
Her Recovery Motto: "Take the Two Minutes"
Make the time, and be consistent. Don't overcomplicate it. "Take the two minutes at the end of the workout; don't exit the workout early — I have been guilty of doing this! Your capacity for greatness will increase if you invest in those moments of self care, recovery, and treating your body like a temple. It's the only home we have."