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Top 6 Recovery Techniques for Triathletes

It’s all about swim, bike, run and for most recreational triathletes, they only just manage to fit the required training sessions into an already busy weekly routine, let alone set aside time to recover. However, a proper recovery strategy can make the difference to the quality of your next training session and race, and makes sure your efforts are maximised.

You need to nail your recovery tactics to ensure a peak performance in training as well as racing. With a lack of proper recovery, tiredness and injuries can occur so it’s vital that your body is kept in good shape. Here we reveal our top 6 techniques to recuperate well and take full advantage of a fresh body and mind to optimise your next performance, whether that be training or racing.

1. Compression

In a nutshell, compression products are designed from a graduated fabric which will increase venous return, therefore encouraging the removal of waste products from your body. These toxins are a by-product of exercise and the sooner they are flushed out of your system the better.

Compression products are best worn as soon as possible after a brutal training session or a tough race and it is recommended that they are won for the rest of the day and through the night if necessary.

2. Ice Bath

Cold-water immersion is a cheap, simple and effective way to recover. It reduces inflammation in the muscles and eliminates soreness. Fill a bath with cold water and throw in a large bag of ice. If you have a thermometer and you wish to monitor the temperature then you should aim for around 12 to 15 degrees Celsius, no colder. In fact, some studies suggest that to immerse your body in cold water without the ice is just as beneficial. 10 minutes is the maximum amount of time you should endure this bath and believe us when we tell you that this is more than enough time!

3. Massage

A foam roller is a brilliant tool to help your muscles recover and bring your legs back to normal. Weaning out a knot in a muscle is fundamental in preventing injury, as it’s a tight muscle that is more likely to get injured! If you address adhesions or knots in the soft tissue on a regular basis, it can be extremely beneficial as both a recovery tool and an injury-prevention technique. And if using a foam roller to recover is too strenuous after a race, then lay on a treatment couch and have a thorough massage to flush out toxins with a qualified Therapist – it is much more relaxing!!

4. Active Recovery

An easy spin on the bike, a short, low-intensity run or a casual swim are all ways to help your body recover whilst still moving. The increase in blood flow with exercise is a great way to flush the toxins and waste products through your body. Active recovery can “flush” the body and legs in the early stages after a race and should be considered as an immediate recovery technique post-activity.

5. Rest

There is no substitute for recovery days and good sleep. Studies have shown that increasing duration and quality of sleep leads to the increased performance and mental well-being of athletes. We also know chronic sleep debt impairs performance and reduces motivation levels to train and compete effectively.

Recommendations for adults suggest an average night’s sleep of 8 to 10 hours plus a 30 minute nap between 2 to 4 PM, if you are training particularly hard. Admittedly this is not always practical to fit in with all the other responsibilities of life but we suggest this as a guide.

6. Nutrition

For weekend warrior athletes training two to three times per week, following a normal daily nutrition plan with no special additions is sufficient for optimal recovery before the next training session. For athletes training once per day or more often, refueling for the next workout as quickly as possible is crucial. Refueling accurately and consistently after workouts will restore muscle and liver glycogen stores, replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat, promote muscle repair and bolster the immune system. Athletes who optimize post-exercise nutrition will perform better in their next training session and accumulate more high quality sessions than athletes skipping post-exercise recovery fuelling.

There are two post-exercise recovery fuelling windows. The first is within 30 minutes of a hard or long training session. The second is in the two to three hours post-exercise. Short easy training sessions do not require special recovery nutrition. Athletes are best sticking to their daily nutrition plan with normal wholesome foods after easy training sessions.

Example of a Post-exercise Recovery Routine

  • Finish race or hard training bout and grab a recovery drink to sip during your cool down
  • Take a 10 minute ice-bath or cold river soak
  • Clean up and shower
  • 10 minute stretch
  • 30 minute massage or foam roller session
  • 20 minute wearing compression
  • 30 minute nap
  • Meal with 20g protein and a combination of carbohydrate and fat
  • Go to bed with enough time to get 8 hours of sleep

Eat well, sleep well and recover fast – train hard, race well and recover smart to keep up with the competition!!