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Monitor Your Triathlon Recovery For Optimal Gains

If you have read our training recovery page you will know that you shouldn't leave your triathlon recovery to chance. As well as using a range of  techniques to optimise your recovery, monitoring your response to training can be helpful.

How Do I Know If I Am Recovered?

The amount of recovery you need will depend on how well you are adapting to training. A monitoring system can be useful to ensure that you spot any signs of excessive fatigue before you go too far down this road. A training diary is useful.

Poor training recovery leads to:

  • Loss of performance – endurance and speed suffers – you can spot this by keeping track of training times – anything more than 5% drop is a problem
  • Lack of improvement over a period of time
  • Inability to concentrate properly
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Altered heart rate during training – elevated or suppressed
  • Negative moods
  • Loss of interest in the sport
  • Recurring illnesses
  • Poor sleep
  • Feelings of fatigue despite rest
  • Weight and appetite changes - Likely to lose weight and lose interest in food

Consistently poor training recovery without reducing training load can lead to overtraining.

Overtraining may be accompanied by one or more concomitant symptoms such as:

  • Persistent muscle soreness
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Increased incidence of injuries
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Loss of motivation
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Breakdown

What If This Happens?

The most important and immediate thing to do is rest.

triathlon training nutrition

Have a look at your nutritional strategies and recovery techniques – have you been eating well and actively trying to improve your recovery?

Have a look at your training – has the volume or intensity of training increased significantly, have you had rest days?

Keeping a diary is really helpful because it makes looking back at what you have been doing so much easier. You should log everything you can about training. The intensity, distance, speed, power output, heart rate etc.

In addition to this, recording various markers of wellbeing can help flag up the start of something not being quite right.

Things to log include:

  • Morning resting heart rate
  • Morning body mass
  • Hydration status
  • Sleep quality
  • Daily rating of fatigue

If you start seeing everything going downhill then ask yourself if you are doing everything you can to enhance your triathlon recovery, and if you should be taking some rest.

You can download sheets to log these things at: www.ask.net.au

Recovery From Racing

Recovery from racing is just as important as recovering from training. In principle the techniques and principles are the same as for recovering from training.

The amount of recovery you will need will depend on:

  • The distance raced
  • The intensity that you raced at
  • How fit you are
  • Whether the weather conditions had an influence
  • How well rested you were at the start
  • How well you took on board energy and fluids during the race

Due to the ‘extreme’ nature of Ironman racing sports science researchers have taken an interest in investigating the effects of Ironman racing on the body.
To give you a quick summary, post-Ironman a whole-body inflammatory response is seen and this declines rapidly, however lower levels of inflammation have been found to persist until at least 5 days after the race. This indicates that muscles have not fully recovered.

This inflammatory response also means that your immune system is also depressed for these 5 days, meaning that you would be more susceptible to infection.

Taking on board adequate carbohydrate and protein post-race is really important, but damaged muscles are not so efficient at replenishing their carbohydrate stores. So even with the best nutritional strategies you will still need time for your body to fully recover.

One of the few studies to look at recovery over a long period of time (several weeks rather than hours or days) found that markers of muscle damage were still elevated 19 days after the Ironman.

So if you are doing an Ironman, take time to allow your body to recover. A good 5 days of rest is needed, possibly more. Ease back into training gently and monitor how you feel.

If you don’t allow yourself to recover properly you will put yourself at risk of overtraining.

Overview of Triathlon Training Recovery

  • Plan and record your training recovery as you would your training!
  • You can’t be in peak condition all of the time.
  • Optimise everything you can to help you avoid illness, injury and poor performance.
  • Different recovery techniques do different things.
  • Best to experiment and try different things to find out what training recovery techniques work best for you.

Remember you can get a free copy of our triathlon training planner here!

If you have a question about your triathlon recovery or anything to do with your triathlon training then just ask us!



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