During the Olympics, we watch the world’s greatest athletes of all time push to the most unbelievable physical and mental limits. But after that mesmerizing, gravity-defying routine or that incredibly difficult race, how do these competitors recover from, yes, the most talked about and most anticipated sporting event of all time? Do they go from 60 back down to zero in the minute their competition comes to a close?
If you're U.S. Winter Olympic Bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, this year, you decide to treat yourself to some well-deserved relaxation. "The past two Olympics I've jumped right into other projects—after Vancouver it was starting the transition to driving a bobsled and after Sochi it was playing rugby with the US National team," Taylor told us. "This Olympics, I'm going to take some time for me and spend some time with my husband—just go on vacation and chill out before starting anything new—spend time with the family and take a second to figure out our next move."
She also says that she uses the time to reset mentally. "The Olympics can be very stressful, so coming down off of it mentally is important. Physically, I'll take some time and avoid the gym for a bit to allow my body to recover from the stress it's been under."
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So while after the Superbowl, some football players might head to Disney World, other athletes decide to really break for another type of vacay. Doing nothing—AKA giving your mind time to unwind and your body to rest—is definitely a theme.
"In terms of coming down from an incredibly competition or a not-so incredibly competition, it is this five-day period where you stay home and watch movies," says Michelle Kwan, a two-time Olympic medalist in figure skating. "There was no Netflix back then, so you would watch movies."
In addition to laying low and reading and watching TV, Kwan said she really focused on having time to herself. "After being in the spotlight for an entire week—or at the Olympic games, two weeks—it’s intense and you’re always on. You have your responsibilities, you have team stuff, you have the performance and competition itself. Then, you have other obligations. It’s pretty high pressure. I think when you’re done, how you recover in my view is just to relax at home and eat healthy meals or not-so healthy meals because you can at that point, and hang out."
Canadian Olympic snowboarder and one of Skullcandy's leading Athlete Ambassadors Mark McMorris says he's hoping his after-Olympic recovery will include celebration and lots of good times, but after suffering several injuries after a serious crash last year, he also has some recovery rules of thumb to stay healthy and in shape. "Some rules of thumb that I followed when I was back snowboarding after the injury were thinking things through, trying to be as prepared as I can for each day and each feature I was about to hit, and doing proper warm up before any big day on the mountain," he told us.
2018 Team USA Pair Skater and first time Olympian Alexa Scimeca-Knierim says she's not quite sure exactly what she'll jet off to doing once the games are over, but she does have a set plan in place for her other large-scale international competitions. She says, typically, she concentrates on repairing her muscles with the NormaTec system, refueling her body with milk, oats, and proteins, replenishing her mind by reading scripture, and feeding her soul. This, she says, usually consists of "time with Chris, working with sparkles, and looking at pictures of cats."
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