Rest Time Is Key After A Triathlon Race


When I started triathlon, I was so focused on training and racing that I never even thought about resting in between races. Once I increased the distance, it was clear to me that I needed to do some research on how to rest properly. I hope this article will help you as well.

After a triathlon race, it is recommended to take between a week of rest for a Sprint event until a full month for an Ironman. You still need to be active during this time but nowhere close to your pre-race weeks. Instead of rushing back into training, I advise you to take some time to reflect on your last race.

You can find below the timelines I created for my recovery after each race. Feel free to copy me or adapt it to your needs.

~ 1 WEEK OF REST AFTER A SUPER SPRINT OR SPRINT TRIATHLON

Right after crossing the finish line:

  • Have a quick chat with your family or friends who came to support you.
  • Refuel at the finisher buffet.
  • Quick active recovery and/or stretch. It is really easy to skip this one, but you will regret it the next day.

The day after the race:

  • Analyze your race: what was good and what could you have done differently. You might need to adapt your training plan slightly so that you can add, for example, a couple of transition practices.
  • Go to our My Tri World app (iOS, Android) and give an honest review of the race. Keep in mind, it is not about how you actually performed 😉 but rather how you liked the event in general. It should help other triathletes learn more about the event and race organizer to improve for next year.

The rest of the first week:

  • Start slowly with some easy swim, run, or bike, and try to keep it short (max. 30-45 min).

One week after the race:

  • If your body and head feel ready, it is time to go back to normal training.

~ 2 WEEKS OF REST AFTER AN OLYMPIC TRIATHLON

Right after crossing the finish line:

  • Have a quick chat with your family or friends who came to support you (see the picture of my wife and me at the beginning of the article).
  • Refuel at the finisher buffet.
  • Quick active recovery and/or stretch. It is really easy to skip this one, but you will regret it the next day.
  • Depending on the event, you might have the chance to use some compression boots or, even better, have a massage. I cannot recommend those enough!
  • DO NOT leave the event before you cheer up the triathletes who are finishing after you. 

The evening of the race:

  • Stay relaxed and ideally try to sleep early. I personally can never sleep right after a race, so I am generally relaxing for a couple of hours and go out for an early dinner next to my hotel/camping.

The 2-3 days after the race:

  • Full recovery – I don’t do anything related to triathlon. If we are in a new town, we might walk around the city.
  • Analyze your race: what was good and what could you have done differently. I have never done a triathlon where it went perfectly, so don’t stop looking until you find something you can work on for your next race.
  • Go to our My Tri World app (iOS, Android) and give an honest review of the race. Keep in mind, it is not about how you actually performed 😉 but rather how you liked the event in general. It should help other triathletes learn more about the event and race organizer to improve for next year.

The rest of the first week:

  • Start slowly with some easy swim, run, or bike, and try to keep it short (max. 30-45 min).

The second week after the race:

  • I will not yet go back to normal training, but I will start to add longer bike sessions and be back in swimming practices.

Around two weeks after the race:

  • If your body and head feel ready, it is time to go back to normal training.

~ 3 WEEKS OF REST AFTER AN HALF IRONMAN

My first half Ironman was planned in 2020, and as you can guess, it didn’t happen. The timeline below was what I planned for it, but obviously, I didn’t test it yet.

Right after crossing the finish line:

  • Have a quick chat with your family or friends who came to support you.
  • Refuel at the finisher buffet.
  • Quick active recovery and/or stretch. Based on how I felt during a half marathon already, the chance of forgetting to stretch is quite low. Your muscles will remind you.
  • Depending on the event. You might have the chance to use some compression boots or, even better, have a massage. I cannot recommend those enough!
  • DO NOT leave the event before you cheer up the triathletes who are finishing after you.

The evening of the race:

  • Stay relaxed and ideally try to sleep early. I personally can never sleep right after a race, so I am generally relaxing for a couple of hours and go out for an early dinner next to my hotel/camping.

The first week after the race:

  • Full recovery – I don’t plan to do any sport related to triathlon. It is the ideal time to spend with your family. As we need to travel quite a bit for any half distance event, we plan to stay a couple of days to explore the region.
  • Analyze your race: what was good and what could you have done differently. I have never done a triathlon where it went perfectly, so don’t stop looking until you find something you can work on for your next race.
  • Go to our My Tri World app (iOS, Android) and give an honest review of the race. Keep in mind, it is not about how you actually performed 😉 but rather how you liked the event in general. It should help other triathletes learn more about the event and race organizer to improve for next year.

The second week after the race:

  • Start slowly with some easy swim, run, or bike, and try to keep it short (max. 60-90min).
  • Throw in some walking or hiking with your friends.

The third week after the race:

  • I will not yet go back to normal training, but I will start to add longer bike sessions and be back in swimming practices.

Once your body and head feel ready (no need to rush):

  • Time to go back to normal training.

~ 2-3 MONTHS OF REST AFTER AN IRONMAN

I plan my first ironman for 2022. The timeline below is my current plan. As with all the timelines in this article, I will change it if I find something which works better.

Right after crossing the finish line:

  • Have a quick chat with your family or friends who came to support you.
  • Refuel at the finisher buffet.
  • Quick active recovery and/or stretch. Based on how I felt during a half marathon already, the chance of forgetting to stretch is quite low. Your muscles will remind you.
  • Use the compression boots or massage from the event. I’d always research that before the event. If it is not an option, I’ll check to organize it on my own.
  • DO NOT leave the event before you cheer up the triathletes who are finishing after you.

The evening of the race:

  • Stay relaxed and ideally try to sleep early. I personally can never sleep right after a race, so I am generally relaxing for a couple of hours and go out for an early dinner next to my hotel/camping.

The motto for your first month after the race: triathlon training is your last priority. It is time to be with your family and friends! You made sacrifices to race your full distance triathlon but don’t underestimate what they sacrificed as well. It is time to give back!  Only you can know what that means for them and how to surprise them.

The first two weeks after the race:

  • Full recovery – I don’t plan to do anything related to triathlon. It is the ideal time to spend with your family. We need to travel quite a bit for longer events, so we will always plan a couple of days of holidays around the race.
  • Analyze your race: what was good and what could you have done differently. I have never done a triathlon where it went perfectly, so don’t stop looking until you find something you can work on for your next race.
  • Go to our My Tri World app (iOS, Android) and give an honest review of the race. Keep in mind, it is not about how you actually performed 😉 but rather how you liked the event in general. It should help other triathletes learn more about the event and race organizer to improve for next year.

From the third week after the race:

  • Start slowly with some easy swim, run, or bike, and try to keep it short (max. 60 min), no specific training, simply staying active.
  • Add some non-endurance sport with friends and family.

Not before one month after the race and only once your body and head feel ready (no need to rush):

  • Time to go back to normal training.

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