Proper recovery after a triathlon is of major importance. Here Will Clarke advises how nutrition, stretching, compression, sleep and massage are vital components for recovery following a race.

With triathlon being such a demanding sport it does pay to take proper recovery measures after competing. I personally really notice a substantial difference in the feeling in the weeks after a race when I’ve done everything I can to pull up well from a race compared to those occasions when I choose to go without any stretching or warm down and tuck into pizza and a cold beer!

Triathlon is one of the best all-round workouts you can possibly get, but it can also be damaging. If you look after yourself properly, the strength and race fitness you can gather from pushing to your max can set you up for your training coming up, and any races you’ve got planned and will move on your level of performance dramatically.

However if you choose not to do that you’ll feel even more sore and tired and you will take much less from the hours of pain you endured in the race. You will probably end up going backwards rather than forwards.

Here are some the the key factors when it comes to recovery after a triathlon:

Recovery food and drink

Making the right food choices are also very important, lots of good quality healthy food and as much green leafy vegetables as you can handle. You should also aim to take a protein shake and eat a good solid meal as soon as possible after the race to make the most of your recovery window. The race itself will also have dehydrated you so try to drink more than you usually would.

In the weeks, post-Ironman racing especially, I try really hard to get in my Green Goblin Veg juice (consisting of apples, celery, cucumber, spinach, ginger and lime). I find that goes a long way to keeping me healthy.

Stretching for recovery

Body work is also important, and the most simple straight forward and way to look after yourself is to stretch and mobilise your body. You’re obviously going to be battered post-race after pushing yourself to your limit, and the night after the race is the key time to spend 20 mins going through some stretches, otherwise you’ll wake up and it’ll be even worse.

Compression for recovery

I know they look a bit silly, but honestly, wearing compression gear post-race is worth it, apart from when you choose to go out for dinner in shorts, compression tights and sandals. Try to get them on soon after the race for quick recovery and if you can wear them through that first night and on the journey home or even the flight home if you’ve racing abroad. You should feel a fair bit fresher in the morning.

Sleep post-race

Getting a good night’s sleep in the hours following a race is of vital importance. This is where the body will do most of its repairing so you should try to aim north of 8hrs a night till you feel like you’ve caught up.

Recovery massage

Massage is also useful to have in the days after the race, to help keep the muscles supple and Iron out any problem areas you might have. It also pushes fresh blood to the muscles helping you recover faster from the race.

If you want to recover as best you can it’s also helpful to get out for some very light training. Especially easy swimming and biking. Sitting around for a week after your race will just slow down your recovery. Just keep it very low level though otherwise you’re going to add to the tiredness.