How long should I take to recover after a half-Ironman if I’m signed up for an Olympic three weeks later?
Recovery is dependent on many factors—your fitness level and history as well as the time of year in your race season. The more cumulative fitness you have as a result of those factors, the faster you recover from events.
You also have to take into consideration how hard you race. Digging deep in tough conditions can require a longer recovery period. Plus, the size of athlete you are and your age and gender should also be considered in recovery time.
Some key points to remember to speed recovery:
– Do some easy movement the next day—for example, a light 20-minute swim or very easy spin on your bike—no pressure, no pace, just get the blood flowing.
– Take one recovery day at your race venue rather than jumping right into travel post-race.
– Be aware that your nutrition immediately post-competition and the 48 hours after can impact your recovery.
– Rehydrate well, do some light stretching, take an ice bath, wear compression and consider a gentle massage.
– Avoid too much load on your legs like walking, standing, jogging or sitting for long periods in the first 48 hours post-race.
The two most common mistakes are doing nothing at all in the first 48 hours after your race and then trying to get back to a normal load of training too early. I recommend in the first 72 hours to focus on active recovery, then two days of aerobic training with no expectations. Aim for the weekend to get back to feeling mostly recovered, approximating 70 percent in terms of distance and intensity. This should set you up well to resume your normal training routine that next week. My short answer is for most trained athletes aim for 7–10 days recovery post-70.3 racing.
Marilyn McDonald is an elite coach for Endurance Corner.