Let’s Talk Recovery (and review Week 14)

Ahhhh yes. Recovery week. That wonderful week where your training volume and intensity is decreased so you can reap the benefits of all the hard work you have logged over the preceding weeks. That wonderful week where not only my body gets a break, but so does my mind. This is my time to relax, get caught up on other things, and get everything in order for the next training cycle.

In particular, I like to make good use of my recovery week by doing lots of stretching and – you guessed it – yoga. Although I do plenty of this during my build weeks, having a week where I really focus on stretching and straightening everything out after a few weeks of hard work is critical to my recovery rate and success in triathlon, and ensures that I am fully recovered and prepared for the work to come next.

I have focused almost exclusively on the back body – after going through the tightness issue in my back/hip/hamstring, I put a lot of focus on stretching my entire posterior to release all that tension. It has of course worked, but I was moderately neglecting another, big, part of the puzzle…my front side! And boy, was I in for a surprise.

My hip flexors and quads were so tight, I had a difficult time doing even some of the most basic poses in yoga. Well, that might explain some things, I thought. A tight front body can throw the pelvis out of alignment, too! Therefore, I did a lot of stretching to work BOTH sides.

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Low lunge with torso opener.

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High lunge with chest opener. The entire front body is stretched here – quads, hip flexors, abdomen, chest, neck. If I turn my left foot under, I would also be able to stretch the anterior tibialis of the shin.

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A combination of the two! This is a very deep stretch in the quad and hip flexor muscles, as well as the muscles of the torso and chest. It’s taken some practice for me to be able to do it. But the difference I feel is noticeable!

Alright, so I stretched. But what else does my recovery week entail? Allow me to be a bit more specific…

Monday was a light stretching day, followed up with some foam rolling.

Tuesday involved a light strength workout in the morning, a little time on the trainer in the afternoon (no more than 60 minutes).

Wednesday brought with it a morning yoga session, and a little run in the afternoon.

Thursday was my swim day, and I put in a decent 3500 yards. I still want to maintain some level of intensity during my recovery week, and putting a little zip in my swim work will do that for me, without taking away from my recovering.

Friday was another swim day; specifically, A-team swim day! (I will introduce the A-team at a later point). Friday was a personal journal day for us, and our test of the day was the 30-minute swim. This is a great test exercise for swim endurance, and even anaerobic endurance; a test to see just how far you can swim in 30 minutes, and how quick a pace you can push – and hold!
I managed a new 30-minute swim PR of 1900 yards, which comes out as an average pace of 1:34 per 100y. Not too bad, but I still would like to do better. I KNOW I can do better, I just have to be a bit more scrupulous about getting my swim work in, and sticking to the letter, as I am not always good about pushing myself in the pool. But that is about to change! Within the spectrum of swim training, it is my goal – not just in preparation for this race – to get in a big set of 5000-6000 yards on Sundays. This is nothing I haven’t done before, I quite frequently get in swims around 5000 yards, but now there will be a bit more intent behind them, since I will be swimming them with someone who swims faster than me. This is good for me, I need the push, so at 10am on Sundays (and occasionally 8:30am), my body better be ready to hit that water…and GO.

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Plow! When I first began practicing yoga, I could not do this if my life depended on me. This pose is what really pointed out the imbalances I had along the back body – specifically, my right foot (the side all my problems were on) could not reach down nearly as far as the left. Now I can get both down! This is an amazing stretch of the posterior – gastrocs, hamstrings, glutes, the entire back, and the neck. I DO NOT recommend attempting this stretch unless you are thoroughly warmed up, and have properly learned how to execute it.

Saturday was a run day, and the day when I start to build things back up a little. I got in 7.2 miles, not a lot, but not too low, either.

Sunday I got in my usual morning swim, and to finish my day out, I went through a little yoga routine to really get myself stretched out; yoga after swimming is great – you work all your muscles in every plane of motion during swimming, and with yoga you stretch out all your muscles in every plane of motion. You can’t go wrong.

That concludes recovery week and my 14th week of training. 182 days remaining until race day. Another build cycle begins today, with some new exercises in my strength routine. Bring it on!

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