How I Recover

Last week was not supposed to be a “recovery” week. However, based on how sore my quads were in the days after the Southern Indiana Triathlon, I decided to listen to my body and take a week to recover. 
So what exactly does a week of recovery mean for me? It contains three key ingredients: Easy workouts/off days, muscle recovery, more sleep.
The race was on Sunday and although I was tired later that day, I felt pretty good. Monday morning was a different story. As I mentioned, I hadn’t planned on a recovery week, so I got up Monday and went to the Train Smart group swim like I do every week. My legs were very sore as I rolled out of bed, but I figured a swim would be good to loosen things up. The workout ended up being a tough one, consisting of lots of kicking sets! So my legs were completely fried come Monday afternoon. By Tuesday, walking up and down steps was painful and if I sat for more than 30 minutes, getting up was a challenge. That is when I decided to scrap my planned workouts for the week and let my body recover.

My workouts the rest of the week looked like this:
Tuesday – Off
Wednesday – Very easy 40 minute indoor trainer ride
Thursday – 3 x 1/2 mile swim intervals
Friday – Off
Saturday – 4.5 mile run
Sunday – 30 minute indoor trainer ride with some higher intensity

As for the muscle recovery, here’s what I did:
Compression socks for the rest of the day on Sunday after the race
Full compression tights for 1-2 hours every night while laying in bed
Cold showers (I do this anyway)
Ice bath (15 minutes after Wednesday’s ride)
Foam roller sessions (10-15 minutes) every day
Slept on “earthing” mat every night
Light stretching later in the week
Drink plenty of water

The more sleep was easy to do. Since my workouts were either much shorter than normal, or non-existent, I just set the alarm clock for 30-60 minutes later.
As you read some of the muscle recovery techniques I used, you may have rolled your eyes once or twice. Which of these contributed the most to my recovery? Who knows, but by Friday morning, my muscles were fully recovered. Considering that I was still in pain on Wednesday, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Although the research isn’t 100% conclusive on the compression gear, I believe that wearing socks or full-leg tights helps with recovery. I haven’t seen any studies that show it’s benefit during an event, but the research backs up wearing it after. The compression garmets help return the body fluids from the legs where they tend to accumulate after a hard effort. I wore the full-leg compression stockings every night for a few hours. A quick tip – go to Walgreens or Rite-Aid and buy the “therapeutic compression support stockings” that are made for improved circulaton and blood flow in elderly ladies. They do the same thing as the name-brand triathlon compression tights and cost $100 less…seriously.

Don’t spend $130 on these…

buy these instead…for $30!
The ice baths are something that I started doing after long runs/rides last summer while training for Ironman. It’s not as bad as it sounds and it works wonders. The cold water constricts your blood vessels and flushes lactic acid from your legs. It also reduces swelling, aiding in recovery time. I started taking cold showers about 2 months ago for the same reasons. I don’t have access to a bath tub after most of my workouts, so I just turn the water on as cold as it will go and take my normal shower. I’m used to it now and it only takes my breath away for the first few seconds. 

As for the “earthing” mat….well, that will require it’s own blog post. For now, I will refer you to this website:
So that’s how I recovered from a very hard race. I’m back into full training mode this week, revving up for my next race, the Buckhead Boarder Challenge…just 4 weeks from yesterday!
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