Triathlon is a strange beast. If I told you it was three sports, I wouldn’t quite be telling the truth. If I said it was one, that wouldn’t be quite right either. The truth of the matter is that tri is three sports in one, but each one has a symbiotic relationship with the other two, which is somewhat obvious to the naked eye, but that exact relationship may not be as simple. Specifically, recovery is much more of a balancing act than I anticipated. I always thought there was some residual fatigue between workouts, but couldn’t never quite fathom exactly what that meant. Learning the push and pull between stimulus and recovery will probably be my greatest challenge in taking up triathlon. After several weeks of training, I now have an initial idea of what that means:
Swimming as the Ultimate Recovery Tool:
There’s something about gliding through the water that actually seems to enhance my recovery after run workouts. In fact, if I swim the day after a long or hard run, I find that, by the afternoon, I feel refreshed and ready to hit up another solid run. Ironically, this euphoric recovery isn’t shared to the same degree with my “cycling legs”, but is still apparent. Because of this, I tend to swim on my recovery days (Monday) and before my track session (Tuesday). Also, I include a Master’s swim on Thursday mornings several hours before my training session on the bike.
Speed Work on the Run:
Traditional running speed work isn’t something I’m accustomed to, but seems to be the key to improving both leg turnover as well as overall running economy. There is, however, a catch to this is God like workout. It demolishes my run legs for a day or two. I’ve found that I need to run easy for at least one day after a track workout in order to not break down later in the week. Additionally, because I place such an emphasis on speed work in my training, I also need to ensure that I take at least two days of running per week (Monday & Friday) or else risk being overly fatigue for my Saturday long run and Sunday bike/run brick.
Cycling Gets the Short End:
Despite getting some reprieve from swimming, cycling seems to be the sport where I feel the most accumulated fatigue. If I overdo it in the pool or on the run, you can bet that I will feel the effects first on the bike. To counter this feeling, I’ve become accustomed to scheduling my threshold work during the middle of the week (Tuesday & Wednesday). These days I am normally either in the pool in the morning (easiest sport on my cycling) or taking a recovery run. I’m really hoping that I adapt better to the other sports in order to afford more volume on the bike as I feel like this may become my weakest sport before too long.
I’m sure as I gain more experience and miles doing triathlon that I will come up with more little tidbits of recovery knowledge, so I’ll continue to post about them as I discover the nuggets. Do you guys have similar idiosyncrasies with your body? Maybe completely different? Let me know!