Recovery After Training

Recovery is a major part of any plan when training for an Ironman or Triathlon event.

Do you know how much time you need after training to recover?

What is the point in doing a hard session once every 4 weeks (every 7 days if you need 10 days to fully recover and perform better?)

Using a 10 day training cycle rather than a 7 would then work better for you. You may need 10 days the first time then 8 days next time then 7 days.

Make your decision by how the next sessions is completed and your recovery rates in the days after.

Training is simple, work hard, recover and repeat with progression and you will improve.

If only life was that simple, those who trained the most would be the best. Yes we have all heard it before but improvement really does come when we rest and sleep.

We need to recover mentally and physically after exercise. Elite full time triathletes have the highest recovery to training ratio because they do not work.

Yes they have other commitments but they have more free time and need more time to recover due to volume of training. Often elite athletes have a much quicker recovery rate. That’s why they are faster, able to perform at a higher rate next more often.

Racing is the best type of training for being race fit but first you need to build a base otherwise your recovery rates (which is fitness) will be your limiting factor.

Look at the table below to give you an indication of how long you need to have to fully recover. This is based on 30 years experience your own individual recovery rate, good nutrition massage non-active time and quality sleep including power naps.

What is an easy recovery ride for one person could be a flat out session for someone else. You will need to train alone some times to do what you need to, not what others do.

For example two triathletes could finish an Olympic triathlon in the same time but one could be a quicker cyclist the other a faster runner.

For a quality session train with others of the same ability or quicker and for recovery work outs train with athletes who are slower.

Recovery training should be enough to increase the heart rate but the effort should be much lower than your quality work outs. Avoid the pitfalls of adding extra volume in between quality training as you will fail to recover and then not be able to do the next quality session that is important for improving.

Below is my list of swim bike run recovery rates for steady tempo and lactate threshold sessions. You can soon see that like filling up a bath and walking away without constant attention will end in disaster (water flows out of the bath) with constant training sickness may be your first barrier for defence, injury if you are unlucky can then happen or worse over training and chronic fatigue (CF) will soon occur. Chronic Fatigue can take many months and even years to recover from.

With good nutrition before and after you will soon start recovering but your total recovery will NOT be complete.

See my recommendations below.

Training Time
Absolute minimum recovery time needed
45 minutes @ steady state training 4-6 Hours recovery

60 minutes @ steady state training 8-12 Hours recovery

90 minutes @ steady state training 18 Hours recovery

5-20 minutes of Tempo efforts 18 Hours recovery

20-40 minutes of non-stop Tempo efforts 36 Hours recovery

40-90 minutes of non-stop Tempo effort 96 Hours recovery

20 Minutes Broken Lactate threshold 48 Hours recovery

5-15 Minutes Lactate threshold 36 Hours recovery

15-25 Minutes Lactate threshold 72 Hours recovery

25-70 Minutes Lactate threshold 108 Hours recovery

5-15 minutes intervals above Lactate threshold 48 Hours recovery

15-30 minutes intervals above Lactate threshold 72 Hours recovery

Training Time Absolute minimum recovery time needed

0- 4 Hours @ steady state training 8 Hours recovery

5-7 Hours @ steady state training 12 Hours recovery

7 Hours plus @ steady state 24 Hours recovery

20-60 minutes at Tempo effort 8-12 Hours recovery

60 -90 minutes at Tempo effort 24 Hours recovery

90-120 minutes at Tempo efforts 24-36 hours recovery

20 Minutes Broken Lactate threshold 18 Hours recovery

20-60 Minutes Lactate threshold 24-30 Hours recovery

5-15 minutes above Lactate threshold 18-30 Hours recovery

15-30 minutes above Lactate threshold 24-36 Hours recovery

30-45 minutes above lactate threshold 48 Hours recovery

Training Time Absolute minimum recovery time needed0- 30 minutes @ steady state training 12 Hours recovery

30-45 minutes @ steady state training 24 Hours recovery

45-60 minutes @ steady state training 36 Hours recovery

60-90 minutes @ steady state training 72 Hours recovery

90 -120 minutes @ steady state training 168 Hours recovery

120 + minutes @ steady state training 240 Hours recovery

20-30 @ steady at Tempo effort 48 Hours recovery

30-60 minutes at Tempo effort 72 Hours recovery

60 -90 minutes at Tempo effort 96 Hours recovery

10 Minutes Broken Lactate threshold 36 Hours

10-25 Minutes Broken Lactate threshold 72 Hours

20-40 Minutes Lactate threshold 24-30 Hours

40-70 Minutes Lactate threshold 48 Hours

0-5 minutes above Lactate threshold 48 Hours

5-15 minutes above Lactate threshold 72 Hours

15-40 minutes above lactate threshold 192 Hours

Once over 35 years of age add another 25% of absolute minimum recovery training time needed. When over 45 increase recovery time by 50% of recovery time listed above.

I would need a week to go into every scenario and the last 30 years but the above is for athletes who have at least 2 years of training.

Recovery rates depend on past experience and each person recovers at a different rate for each sport.

Monitor your tiredness from training, sometimes actually going slower can take longer to recover than faster pace training. If this is true then you need to improve your slower pace efficiency.

For example when 35 increase recovery time from 12 to 15 hours when 45 increase 12 hours by 50% to 18 hours.

Injury prevention is your number one priority.

Never run awkardly from being sore.

You also need to consider that you will take longer to recover from your first progressive training work outs than as you progress so that is why I have provided a range minimum and maximum we are all different and respond differently even to the same stimulus.

Listen to your body and keep a training log.

NEVER RUN HARD within 96 hours of your legs being sore from running.

I.e. No hard running for at least 4 days after all sore or pain has gone due to high intensity workouts or racing.

When you train and what you do has a big impact on your future performance. Increasing over –load then recovery training brings results. = Two key sessions close together will give you more time during the rest of the week to recover.

I.e. Tempo session day one long steady run day 2.

Subtle changes over long periods of time can also cause the body to breakdown as you are unable to notice any danger signs until it is too late!

I.e. Small increases in steady tempo and Lactate sessions with not enough recovery lead to chronic fatigue.