Active Recovery

Active Recovery

Coach Susie Langley with Jane Hansom at Hawaii earlier this year.

I thought I would put the two subjects of Rest and Christmas together, as both need to be integrated to have a happy holiday period for you and those around you.

There is no reason to feel guilty while eating Christmas dinner or relaxing over a few beers with some pudding for dessert.

The question of ‘rest’, when one should be doing it and how to best implement it in a busy life-work balance arises in question time at all my seminars. Always.

The anxiety of ‘should I rest? And what about the missed sessions is my program?’ is a paralysing self debate, which usually ends in if, ‘well, if I just push on and do everything, then I have everything covered.’

The reality is rest does not work this way.

So let’s analyse what at we call a rest day, while also accounting for the fact that each athlete is different.

Some athletes like to do nothing on a rest day. Absolutely nothing. Just ask Chrissie (Wellington) about her first experience in camp where her room-mates did nothing but watch the TV series ’24’ ad nauseum during their rest period.

This is fine for me.

Others, like Chrissie, find that situation totally unacceptable. So we do what is called an active rest day. This is where we do very short sessions of no more than 30 minute tops.

Some professionals still like to to do the three sessions as per their normal training day, and so our rest day may look like this:

20 minute jog in the morning. 30 minute easy pedal in the afternoon with a light splash in the pool of between 1-1.5km. Never more than 2km.

We have others who want to do a little jog or a splash swim and nothing else. This is also acceptable.

These times and distances are very easy even for age group athletes, so one can imagine how for the pros it is truly a rest day with some muscle movement.

What we do not do on rest day – massage. Massage doesn’t constitute a rest. We do that before our rest day.

Daniela_Crew_BahrainPost Bahrain rest for the Angry Bird and crew.

Resting over Christmas

For those of you worried about incorporating ‘rest’ into your schedules over Christmas, here is a little present for our athletes on training plans:

You’ll find the training broken up into blocks. 5-7 days training followed by a rest or active rest day, followed by another 5-7 training before another rest day as per our program.

Here is the kicker. After the third period of training, no matter how we feel we take a minimum two-day break. Always. One day doing completely nothing and the other can be active rest if you choose to.

This is mandatory. Two rest days. No discussion. I don’t care if you are ‘feeling good’.

This is where we get our insurance policy from over-training.

We then have a ‘get back to training day’ where we build back into training gently. No heart rate stuff, at most some simple accelerations on all three. Then we’re back into our workload full tilt until we believe we need our next rest day.

What day is that?

I have no idea and neither should the athlete. The weekly calender just as the training program should not dictate to us that.

The training philosophy is this:

If our bodies tell us it wants or needs a rest – then we take it. If one day is not enough, we always take two. But here is the kicker, the 3rd day is always building, not smashing. It’s preparing our bodies to get back to some real work.

At a 72 hours of break / easy work every training cycle is as close to dogma that you will find. The freshening up it gives you will make such a difference to the quality of your everyday training.

So what has it to do with Christmas?

Well,‎ it allows you to give yourself time off over the festive days. Now, with one week before Christmas you can work yourself really hard with two blocks of three days of solid training with one rest day in the middle.

Then Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day can be recovery before getting straight back to your training the very next day.

You’re happy that you missed nothing and much more importantly your family are appreciative that you took genuine time off to spend with them on the special occasion.

Merry Christmas to all and thank you for your support over a brilliant 2016 season. online triathlon coaches are available to help improve your performance here.

Inquiries about Trisutto coaching development can be made to:

Tapering for Kona

Tapering for Kona

The team are now into their last week of our Jeju heat camp.

As we get down to what is normally considered taper time for Kona, lots have been asking for my take on an article published yesterday by former World Ironman champ, Pete Jacobs.

At we don’t believe in calling it a taper, rather ‘race preparation’ so we don’t get lost in the thinking that we need to taper the workload down to near nothing.

In his piece on the subject Pete nails the most common mistake in the last week of the traditional taper: Too many athletes are running too much into the race and are doing it too fast.

His advice about backing off on the run in the weeks leading up to race day is in my opinion spot on. I am of similar mind that once you have locked up your last long run on the need to wind it down.

This is because we keep our aerobic function topped up on the bike and with the swim. The bike allows us to monitor our power effort and the lack of stress impact makes cycling the most efficient method to use as a training tool to adjust intensities during this most important week.

We at also cut back the number of swim workouts in a normal taper. Swimming is power intensive and if you are a poor swimmer – a swim set that is too strong for you close to a race can have a negative affect on not just your swim, but also your bike and run.

Where would I disagree with Pete is that we do not advise swimming in the race course within 3 days before the race.

Kona Water1

This is not just for Kona, nor am I criticising the water there. I advise this to all for every race.

Over a long career I’ve seen too many athletes do a great preparation only to turn up race morning with a ‘mysterious illness’. It’s often put down to food poisoning, when in fact they have picked up a little bug in the open water. 48 hours later they can be totally fine, but the race is over.

For those nodding their heads thinking ‘well yes, maybe in Rio, but not possible in Kona’. I can assure it’s often the ‘cleanest’ waters that will bring you undone. To spend a huge amount of money to prepare and travel to a race only to see it brought undone by swimming in the beautiful lake is just not a risk I want our charges to take.

Plenty of time for looking at the marine life after the race when one is actively recovering. You’re not going to be feeling that fresh anyway.

Apart from that, think Pete’s advice is sound to go with.

Post Race Recovery Strategies

Post Race Recovery Strategies

Recently I reposted an article, De-Iced: the End of the Cold War, which outlined how the world’s leaders in health, performance and rehab are now abandoning ice as a recovery tool based on a complete lack of evidence that it speeds up or helps in the recovery process. Along with generating some healthy debate, I’ve had a couple of emails along the theme of:

Well, if you don’t advocate stretching for triathlon, and you don’t believe in ice or R.I.C.E then what do you do with your athletes post race?”

Which I think is a fair enough question. In response here are my thoughts on Post Race Recovery:

The first point I’d make is that a recovery plan depends largely on whether you’ve competed in an early morning or an afternoon race. The reason this is important is because I prefer my athletes to exercise and actively loosen up again after they’ve finished competing.

If they’ve had an early race start my advice is to go on a 60-90 minute bike ride some time in the afternoon. Obviously no big effort, just to spin the legs over.

An afternoon race can complicate this as they may not have the time to complete the ride in daylight hours. In that case we try and make sure that the hotel we’re staying at has a treadmill or sauna. Post race recovery is then an easy 30 minute run followed by a 30 minute sauna – with light stretching if they must.

But this is where it can get tricky:

If the race we’ve just completed falls in the middle of training for another race, then we look to do a run straight after finishing with the distance of the run varying according to the distance of the next race. So if the next race was Olympic distance post-race we’d run 5km, or 10km if we’re going half Ironman. If our next race is an Ironman we’d do 15km and then in the afternoon we’d ride.

It’s the time just after finishing a race that is so essential to helping recovery. That’s why I advise my guys to stay in the town an extra day if they can to train and then return back to camp on the Tuesday.

Now of course if you are an age-group athlete who works full-time then this is very difficult.

However I would still strongly suggest doing some form of exercise on race day itself, and then making every effort to fit in some light training the day after. Not doing anything straight after the race and then taking Monday off slows recovery enormously. It also creates the opportunity for injury as once you get back into training the muscles have completely stiffened and tightened up.

So in short, rather than ice or R.I.C.E I recommend keeping the blood flowing as soon as possible in the hours and days after the race, then later in the week take a day or two off.

Below is a rough Sutto guide to what we do and it seems to work pretty effectively.


Ride again in the afternoon 60-90 minutes.

AM: Short, easy run 30 minutes
Midday: Swim 1hr easy
PM: Ride 1hr easy (pack bike)

AM: Short run 20 minutes
Midday: Travel home
PM: Normal swim set if you can.


Complete rest. coaches are available to help improve your performance here.