Intensity and active recovery
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It's a simple concept really: train well, race well, then recover—but many athletes suffer from some sort of endorphin-induced euphoria and forget the recovery part. I'd been guilty of this myself in early days, but not anymore; I look forward to recovering with easy training days.

It's natural to want more when everything is going well; you feel indestructible, great race results, no injuries, but this might be the time to back-off. To quote rock climber Dean Potter: “When you feel unstoppable is exactly the time to stop.”

There's a fine balance between doing as much work as your body can recover from within a finite period of time, and pushing it over the edge where injury or mental breakdown occurs. You can learn your limit the hard way, getting a feel for this break point by trial and error, play it safe by following general rules that work for most athletes, or my personal favorite, hire a coach to take the guesswork out of the process!

The more intensity your body copes with from races or training over a certain unit of time, the more you need AR (active recovery) workouts. Active recovery is when you keep training, but at low effort levels that don't stress your body. For swimming this means forgetting about timed sets and perhaps just working on form; for cycling this means going out on a tour without the heart rate monitor; for runs this means staying at 70% of max heart rate or lower for relatively short runs.

The effect of active recovery is quite different than stopping training completely. When you're used to training every day — then stop — your body 'clogs up' and you may feel worse than if you'd kept moving. Think of an old plow that sits out in a field unused and rusts solid, OK that's extreme, but you get the point.

With AR you keep burning calories — and you know what happens when you keep eating like as though you're in training, but aren't burning the calories while sitting on the couch.

After a particularly intense race effort there can be plenty of soreness in the days that follow. Warming-down post race can reduce this. If you're shot after the race and have no energy to warm down, plan to do some light training during the day(s) after (swimming and cycling is preferable to running when legs are sore). You will recover faster with light training than with no training.

  “You can't recover sitting on the sofa.” – Joe Bonness content ©opyright tri-Guru