August 19th, 2019
By: Coach Maleia Tumolo
The hours, days , and months of training have paid off. You just peaked for the season and crossed the finish line of your “A” race. So now what? Well its RECOVERY time!!! Unfortunately the need for recovery is usually underestimated by endurance athletes. Often that feeling of having to continue to train right away to achieve another good result lingers and pokes the back of your mind. You tell yourself I’m going to take 2 weeks off and do nothing. But instead a few days later you are back at it grinding away again… so what should you do following your A race?
The first 24 hrs are really important but after that I highly recommend you have a very relaxed perspective on the few days/weeks (depending on the distance) after your race. The next day, after your race do something for 20 to 30 minutes—jog, walk, swim, or bike. This will help start the healing process by eliminating waste products and supply blood to sore muscles. Also don’t forget to refuel your body with nutrient dense foods and lots of fluids.
However the recovery doesn’t stop there. For shorter races 5k, 10k, & sprint distance triathlons, after the “shake out run” the day following your A race NOW it is time to take two or three days off. As the distance increases so does the required recovery efforts. If your A race was a half marathon or Olympic triathlon you may want to take a whole week off. If it was a marathon or anything longer your recovery time increases to 2 weeks or more. Use this downtime to stretch, roll, and massage your muscles. Take nap or meditate since you don’t have any workouts planned. Your objective is to give your body and mind a chance to rest and recharge.
When that initial recovery time is over it ok to get back to training. But keep in mind you need to go back to the basics for a little bit. Don’t jump back into it too fast. You will want to slowly building back up to your normal volume of training. Start with some easy cross training and low intensity cardio and address any issues such as injuries you may have experienced during your training season or on race day. Also since it can be hard to find enough time to strength train during the competitive season. Now is a great time to focus on strength to build a solid musculoskeletal foundation. Just be sure that you don’t train hard again until you’re fully recovered and add intensity back gradually.
Keep in mind there are no steadfast rules. How quickly you return to normal training depends on the length of the race you’ve just completed and your fitness level. One thing is for sure whether you are an amateur or elite athlete taking a little time off is the best thing you can do now to improve your future racing.