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The Upside To Downtime

  • By Torbjørn Sindballe
  • Published May 23, 2014
Craig Alexander trains in Kona. Photo: John David Becker

Torbjørn’s Recovery Tips for a Peak Performance

Take lots of time off.
I am convinced that most athletes take too little time off at the end of the season and need to shoot for something between six and 10 weeks, depending on their training background, volume and load of training. More intense mid-season training mandates a longer break. In those weeks, the focus must be on restoration and recovery of body and mind, doing only short, light alternative activity interspersed with a little jogging. This is important for your longevity as an athlete.

Use micro-breaks in rest weeks and week-long mid-season breaks.
All athletes can benefit from frequent micro-breaks, with two to three days of doing nothing. These could be placed during the rest weeks most athletes have every three to four weeks. In addition, most athletes can benefit from a mid-season break with at least a full week off. This is paramount to late-season health and performance.

Sleep well.
Quality sleep is the key to brain recovery. Many age groupers cut into their sleep so that they can train, a strategy that has diminishing returns.

Eat more antioxidants and experiment with fewer carbs.
Eating a diet rich in antioxidants and experimenting with whether or not you can maintain training intensity on a mid- or even low-carb diet may help you combat some of the ill effects of high training loads and reduce the oxidative stress on the body. But keep in mind that carbs are necessary to support heavy training, so be cautious in cutting back your carb intake.

Torbjørn Sindballe is a former pro from Denmark who won the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championship in 2004 and 2006 and was third in the 2007 Ironman World Championship.

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