January 08, 2018 - STOP! TAKE IT EASY! Too many triathletes have an irrational fear of losing fitness if they take a recovery day...and thus most people never take a proper recovery day! Here are some great ways to get the most out of your recovery days!
Triathletes by nature are at a complete loss when told to go EASY. So, what does an off day or easy workout really mean? For most age group triathletes, it means showing up to masters swim or the group run and going 1% easier than normal. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your body is to actually let it recover for once. You cannot go hard all the time. The NCAA has restrictions in place dictating how many consecutive practices may take place before a “mental health day,”. Off-seasons are mandatory and vital to allowing your body to restore physical, mental, and chemical balance.
I give you the 6 S’s for a great recovery day.
Most of us do not sleep enough nor well enough each night. We all know that sleep in vital to our recovery and daily stress levels. On you recovery day, sleep in and get to bed early. Trust me, your body and mind will thank you for the few extra hours of sleep. Take a nap if you have time for it!
Go for an easy technique focused swim. No intervals, no main set, no set volume. JUST FOCUS ON PERFECT TECHNIQUE. Time or distance does not matter here, FEEL is what we are looking for. Lets be honest, most triathletes are not good swimmers. Many triathletes swim in excess of 20k yards or meters a week and see absolutely zero increase in speed. YOU HAVE TO GO SLOW TO GO FAST. Not only are you becoming a more efficient swimmer, but the hydrostatic pressure of the water is an amazing recovery tool.
Go sit in the steam room and relax! The high levels of moisture in the air forces you to really breathe deeply, expanding your diaphragm and your chest. The steam room has also been shown to lower your blood pressure! An elevated blood pressure is a physiological marker for overtraining! Make sure you bring a bottle of water into the steam room and periodically sip on it. NEVER stay in past your comfort zone! Just enough to feel good, never lightheaded or dizzy. FOCUS ON BREATHING!
I will usually sit in the sauna and really sweat it out after a quick steam room session. The sauna will really help you work up a sweat; releasing toxins and increasing blood flow and immune response. Again tolerance is key, don’t stay past your comfort zone. Because of the increase in tissue temperature, the sauna is a great place to get your stretching done. Remember again to drink water!
After the swimming, steam, and sauna, your body is nice and relaxed, the muscles should be warmed up as well. This is a perfect time to get in a stretch session or go to a restorative yoga class. Hard training blocks cause stiffness and restrictions in the body, which if they go unaddressed can culminate and manifest as a injury. Consistent stretching or going to that restorative yoga class can be a game changer in your ability to train hard when the time comes.
Hydration. This is something we should always be doing everyday. Drink MORE than enough water than you think you need. Chances are that you are chronically dehydrated anyway. Your body and your mind need water to operate! In addition to water, make sure you are refueling on your recovery days as well! Your body needs resources to rebuild! Feed the beast!
Christopher J Lee
Triathlon Coach @ AJ Baucco Coaching
Former Head Coach CU Boulder Swimming
NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioining Specialist
FMS Funtional Movement Systems Lvl 1
NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist
Stages Cycling Certified