What is the best way to recover after a race? Active recovery is great and suggests a very easy effort of whatever activity you choose, whether it is swim, bike, or run. The fact is, you can add a nice twist to your active recovery by focusing on a technical element of a discipline. How do we do that? Be creative and do TCR, Technique Centered Recovery.
Especially if you are an age grouper, many detailed aspects of swimming, biking and running are not getting worthy attention because of time constraints. Now that you need to be going easy, identify aspects that never get attention, but should. How fast can you change a tube? Linus van Onselen credits his ability to change a tube in under 2 minutes as one reason why he has 21-plus sub-3 “Argus’s” under the belt. It sounds ridiculous training a tube change, but many triathletes have related how stuck they would be if they had to change a tube mid race.
Don’t practice it in your garage. Do an “active recovery ride” for 5 kms, jump off and unscrew a pre-loosened valve for instant deflation. Now the challenge is to do a “race day” complete tube change and cycle off in less than 5 minutes. If you want comedy, challenge a fellow athlete to the task. The puncture fear will be much less come next race day, knowing you’ve sorted out the fumbling.
Simple exercises like taking a bottle from your bottle cages and filling up your aero bottle on the go, is another skill. Some people even find smooth hairpin turns with a TT bike to be difficult. Practice fast braking, entering and exiting a hairpin. You gain 25 meters on your rivals in seconds that way in the next race. If you’re a mountain biker, cycle as slow as you can up to a drop that is still more of a challenge you’d like it to be and do multiple descents, walking your bike back after each one. For swimming, devote time to do all those drill sessions you skipped. Take all your toys and play in the water. The brain makes notes of all those corrective measures and incorporates it for a better race day. None of it needs to be tiring.
As far as running goes, descending low steps to develop a good feel for your stabilizing muscles is a great recovery exercise. If you are a trail runner, practicing hand-assisted drops down mid to high steps are of great value. Testing the bounce of your race day back pack and identifying chafe points with easy running also makes for great Another great thing exercise is to sort out new data screen configurations on your training watch and put them to the test. Above all, try to see the beauty around you that becomes a blur when you train hard.
Recovery is a great time to turn your focus away from the tiring side of training and address the finer details of all technical aspects. Not only do you regain your form, but in your next race you’ll score extra seconds, even minutes courtesy of your technical improvements. Have fun!