Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday - Recovery

Ironwoman Wednesday is a weekly linkup on a variety of triathlon-related topics (that will be announced the week before). It is similar to Tri Talk Tuesday that a few other bloggers started, but the more people talking about triathlon the better!

Gabi at Lean Green Island Girl, Michelle at Ironwoman Strong and I are all training for Ironman Louisville. It is really exciting (and encouraging) to be sharing this journey with these two amazing women!

Today's topic is recovery!

 Mike's idea of "recovery" during an overnight relay

Ahh, recovery. So important, yet often so overlooked by runners and triathletes. Even me.

Recovery doesn't necessarily mean sit on your butt and do nothing all day, although, from time to time that is important. When preparing for a big event such as a marathon or a long-distance triathlon you are often training for 16 to 24 weeks, which means that utilizing different recovery techniques is extremely important to ensure that your body is ready for that next tough swim, bike and/or run.

Recovery includes:

Rest (Sleep and off days from workouts)
Cutback Weeks (reduced intensity and distance)
Active Recovery 
Compression gear

While training, Mike and I will incorporate cutback weeks into our training plan. Every couple of weeks it is important to allow your body to recover, while still swimming, biking and running. 

 Here's an example of a cutback week back in June

In addition, Mondays have traditionally been our "off" days from training. When we are not training as intensely (usually in the winter) we may take more than one off day a week. Rest is important to allow your muscles to rebuild and repair themselves, they take on a lot of wear and tear during intense training! I find that I usually don't feel as well if I take more than one off day in a row, which is why active recovery is also essential.

After a marathon or long-distance triathlon we will use active recovery. We try to at least walk the next day, usually with Bernie, to get the blood flowing and help remove any chemical build-ups in our bodies. Also, as I mentioned before, the week after a race is typically one with less distance and/or intensity.

 I couldn't eat right after Musselman, but I could drink some juice!

Another part of recovery that is really important is nutrition and hydration. Mike and I try to make sure that we at least drink something right after a hard workout, and that we get some type of nutrition into our bodies within the hour after working out. Sometimes this doesn't happen, but it is really important for recovery to remain hydrated and eat properly. By doing so, you replace lost electrolytes, aid muscle repair and replenish glycogen stores - all of which are crucial for your recovery!

It is no secret that Mike and I LOVE compression gear. We wear it while running, while recovering, all the time (I wear compression socks under my work clothes). By wearing compression socks, shorts, etc. you increase blood flow and reduce soreness after a hard workout.

Finally, stretching, massages, using a foam roller or the stick all aid in recovery.

The important thing to remember is that if you want to be a runner or a triathlete for an extended amount of time, you need to allow your body to properly heal. There's no shame in taking an off day or cutting back on distance/intensity so that you are able to do what you love for many years to come!


  1. Great post!
    As hard as it is for me, I find that nutrition plays a huge part. Instead of pigging out after my 15+ mile runs, if I eat sensible recovery is much easier!
    And I have a regular "date night". With the foam roller. :)
    IM is a pipe dream for me ... I'm tackling the 70.3 next year though! Hopefully!!

  2. Great post! I wear compression gear under my work clothes too! That's why I love the calve sleeves! And that is so true about active recovery post race. Best thing to do is actually move a little, whether it's a swim, walk or some stretching/yoga. I'm determined to get some movement post IMLV, because I know I'm gonna be sore!

  3. I've recently started doing ice baths after tough bike and run workouts, which have helped a lot. We used to do them for basketball all the time, and I forgot how well they work!

    1. I did forget to mention epsom salt and ice baths, we use both of those!

  4. Great post!!!! All so important. :) You've got this.