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Triathlon Training Recovery

Optimise Your Recovery For Optimal Performance

Don’t leave your training recovery to chance, you should plan this in the same way that you plan the rest of your schedule.

We will take you through the following topics:

As well as thinking about what training sessions you need to do to get fitter, you also need to work out what the ensuing fatigue from each session is going to be and plan your training recovery strategies appropriately.

Recovery allows the restoration of physiological and psychological processes, so that you can compete or train again at a similar level.

Without effective recovery, the body starts to malfunction and you don’t adapt positively to the work you are doing.

Actively taking steps to help your body recover allows you to adapt to training more quickly by reducing fatigue so you can be fully ready to get the most out of your next session.

Obviously doing more than one training session a day, and/or fitting it around work/family/other commitments means that starting a workout in a fresh state may not happen very often.

Using some of the training recovery methods outlined below will help you to reduce the risk of the problems associated with becoming overfatigued or overtrained.

If you have any questions about your recovery please ask us.


How Do You Adapt To Training?

Adapting to training allows you to maintain or improve performance. Adaptation happens during recovery periods, and so getting this right is crucial to seeing an improvement in your performance.

Training Adaptation Cycle

Training adaptation cycl

You need to have some sort of overload to cause your body to adapt (“supercompensate”) to training. This could be through a high volume of training, high intensity sessions or unaccustomed workouts.

There is a fine balance between optimal performance and over-training. Over-reaching for a short period of time is fine, you just need to know where to stop before you cross the line into overtraining.

If you try to maintain a high intensity and volume of training for too long a period of time, you will likely become over-reached. If you don't reduce your training load, this is likely to lead to you becoming over-trained.

Positive changes to in your body occur during the recovery period. No recovery means no positive adaptations. This results in over-training and performance going downhill.


Demands Of Training – What Do You Need To Recover From?

Triathlon training can be very fatiguing just due to the sheer volume of work you could be doing.

There are several different types of fatigue though, and the nature of preparing for a triathlon means that you are likely to come across all of them.

The types of fatigue are:

  • Metabolic fatigue (energy stores)
  • Neural fatigue of either or both the peripheral nervous system (localized force production) and central nervous system (drive/motivation)
  • Psychological fatigue (emotional and social stress factors)
  • Environmental fatigue (climate and travel)

This table explains the types of fatigue, how long they last and also the best recovery methods to use. The time it takes to recover will depend on the type of session you have done. We also have a page about recovery techniques.

Types of training fatigu

Training recovery occurs in three phases:

The first phase occurs during the 0 – 6 hours post-workout. So long as you take in adequate nutrients, the initial replacement of fuel in the muscles occurs during this phase.

The second phase occurs during the 6 – 24 hours post-training, during which your fuel supplies are fully restored within the whole body.

The third phase occurs 25 – 36 hours post-training, during which your central nervous system recovers.

Without full rest, recovery can take longer than 36 hours, so you need to use the training recovery techniques outlined here and learn to listen to your body to ensure that you don’t become over fatigued.

Start to understand how your body responds to training, competition and other factors. Know when you are tired and need to rest and when you are OK to push on.

Over a season your performance in training and competition can go up and down. This is to be expected, you can't be in peak form all the time.

Your main aim should be to peak for one or two key performances and try to minimise underperformance.


Optimising Recovery

Rest days are essential. Aim to have at least one day per week with no training. It might be that during certain phases of your programme your rest day occurs less often than once per week and your training may cycle through easier and harder phases.

Remember that it can take 36 hours of rest to fully recover, and so if you are struggling to complete sessions in the way intended, then take a day off, even if it isn’t scheduled. So long as you aren’t just being a bit lazy then this will do you more good in the longer term than pushing on through fatigue.

Follow the links below to find out how to optimise your recovery through ice baths and other techniques.

We also guide you through monitoring your recovery from training and racing.


Other Pages You Might Like


ice bat

Ice Baths

Get the most from your training by making sure you recovery optimally - find out our top tips and techniques, from how to use ice baths to compression gear and contrast bathing.



Training adaptation cycle

Monitor Your Recovery

To get the most our of training you need to train hard, so you will feel tired. But how do you know if you're doing too much? Find out how to monitor your wellbeing and spot the signs of overtraining.


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