« 7 Basic Training Assumptions | Main | Speed, Power, Heart Rate and Fitness »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Hi Joe,

Would you expect the effects of the active recovery to lessen over a greater recovery period, or is there a better alternative? As an example, I see reports of so many stage race riders buckling down for a hard night of massage and eating, but I can't recall any mention of a cool down or recovery ride after the stage. Would that be a time constraint, in that maybe calorie intake is more useful than cool down? Thanks.


hi Joe:
How about nutritional requirements between events? I have an event coming up with a criterium in the morning and a 10 klm time trial about 4 hours later.

Joe Friel

Pat--That's an interesting question that I have never seen addressed in the literature. I suspect time constraints are an issue as is the fact that the stages are often 5 or more hours. Had the cyclists in this study done longer rides at mod-high intensity it could well have changed everything about the effect of the various recovery methods. And, of course, this study does not address what is the best way to recover for tomorrow's stage/test.

Joe Friel

Darren--carb and perhaps protein post-race #1 are what you most need in this situation.

jerome dardel

Thank you Joe
It's definitely make order in all the "things" we are told are a must for this and that.
Active recovery - simple!

Mark Maurer

Dear Joe,
Thanks for the blog, it's very interesting. I am doing a big day next weekend and wonder if I should set up a bike on a trainer and hop on it for 10 or 15 minutes while drinking a smoothie or other recovery drink after the 5 hour bike. Or, just go with the plan in your book and have a light meal and rest.

Joe Friel

Mark Maurer--I'd suggest light meal and rest given what that day will be like.

Mark Maurer

Thanks Joe. I'm enjoying using Your Best Triathlon. It fills in a lot of the gaps in setting up a training plan. I used the bible last year to train for Ironman CDA as well as the virtual coach on Training Peaks. I'm not sure if it's that I had that base to come off of but my pace has certainly picked up this year.

Paul Waite

I did a 7-day stage race in Feb where each day comprised 2 stages with about 1.5h lunch break between them. Stage lengths varied but typically something like 60-70km each time.

My recovery was pretty simple: off the feet, in the shade, replenish fluids, bit of easily digestible sustenance - the usual stuff, then pack up and on the bike for a 10 min warm-up.

On some days I didn't bother with the warm-up, as we usually had a neutralised start of a few km to do it. Whatever the case when I first got on the bike after resting up the legs felt like hell, and took 10-15 mins to come around. Once that was done they were good as gold.

My point is that the body seems keen to get into 'shut down & recuperate mode' once you stop exerting yourself. To resume exertions you need to coax it back into that mode. In the descriptions above it looks like the icing/compression was followed by getting right on the bike and doing a TT. Was there a any warm-up? If not then I'd expect poor results, but they might therefore be misleading.

I would run the above scenarios as laid out but which each one having an identical, say 15 minute, warm-up just before the TT.



hey very interesting study--thanks for your take on it. seems like many cyclists I know regularly do a cool-down spin after a race to aid recovery. nice to know there is some science to back it up. (and I'm glad the icing didn't help! that wouldn't be any fun in the middle of the day between races)


Hi Joe,
have you written anything about the "train low-race high" koncept?

Joe Friel


Joe Friel

Paul Waite - Each recovery was 2h with only the first 20min devoted to a recovery mode. Then the subsequent TT was preceded by a warm-up. Everything was the same for each of the 5 tests except for the 20min immediately after TT #1.


It does seem to imply that the warmup for the first TT was sub-optimal. If the second TT could possibly be faster (which seemed to be proven or strongly suggested) then the pre-race protocol for the first TT was wrong.

Was the warmup before each TT sufficiently long and intense ?

I think "short-term recovery" is a good title for this post, but it could also be "pre-race protocol". Doesn't it seem to imply that you want some fairly high intensity race-like efforts well before your short TT/race ?

Sergiu Buciuc

Hi Joe,

I have a staged running event that involves two runs in the same day, let's say 14km in the morning, and 8km in the afternoon. I may not have a bike to do the active recovery on. Would you recommend 20min of very light running after the morning run, for cooldown?

Thanks for your work, and you should know that you have many readers & followers here in Romania!

Joe Friel

Fred--Good point.

Joe Friel

Sergiu Buciuc--Running is quite a bit more stressful than cycling. Difficult to duplicate 80w with a run. That's more like a 'walk.' The answer here would also come down to how fit and how much volume you normally do. Some (elites) could probably handle a 20min jog/walk ok. Less fit would be best advised to get off of their legs as soon as possible and rest, I believe.

greg Hinrichsen

Hey Joe, Thanks for the post. I wish the research group would have also tested the recovery value of a good nap between workouts. That is if you can pull it off within 2 hours of the 1st workout. That is where my money is. zzzzz. Greg


That makes perfect sense to me. You need blood flow to bring nutrients to the muscles for repair. Cold and compression are for injuries. My sore muscles always heals fastest when I add warmth and movement. Great study.

David Petersen

I am definitely a time-crunched cyclist, kids, home, work, yard etc. About 50% of my training miles each year come from commuting to work which equates to about 25 miles and 90 to 100 minutes 2 to 3 times a week. So I have a lot of two-a-day training sessions. It seems like these rides stress my system more than a 3 to 4 hour weekend ride. I find it very hard to recover from these rides.

What would be the best way for me to recover between rides. It looks like from the comments above, that something I can do is have a nice easy recovery after my am ride, which I usually do. The am ride is about 40 to 45 minutes. After a 10 minute warm up in zone 1 I spend about 20 to 25 minutes in Zone 2, about 3-5 in zone 3 a couple in zone 4 (some hills I can't avoid) followed by a 3 to 5 minute cool down. My morning rides are usually done fasting. I don't eat until I get into the office - breakfast usually includes wheat bread (made form scratch at home) toast and a protein drink. Sometimes I will eat a small bowl of cereal prior to the ride.

My digestive system is pretty sensitive to sweet drinks, so on rides that are less than an hour, I usually just take water. I drink plenty of water during the week and am usually quite hydrated.

My pm ride will be similar to the am ride but the time spent in zone 2 in the am is now in zone 3. I have an earlier edition of the race bible. I have the Tour de Park City at the end of July and LOTOJA later in the year. I am planning on one to two more weeks of Base before I begin Build and allow at least two weeks for peak.

So bottom line, what is the best way for a working commuter to recover with two-a-days two to three times a week?

Joe Friel

David Petersen - There are several things that can be done to promote recovery. The two most important are sleep and nutrition. Do a search on my home page (www.joefrielsblog.com) for "recovery" and you'll find several more details.

cheap jerseys

I am doing a big day next weekend and wonder if I should set up a bike on a trainer and hop on it for 10 or 15 minutes while drinking a smoothie or other recovery drink after the 5 hour bike.

Joe Friel

cheap jerseys--Nope, don't do that. Intensity too low in that long a ride for a cool down to be of any benefit. Better to rest passively.

Sheila King

Interesting article and comments. Just to share...I have done the following three times over the last few months...
Go to an early morning Masters Swim workout (5:30am-7am) and do a solid workout. Of course, ending with a cool down. Then come home and nap from about 8 am to 10 am. Then get up and go run a lunchtime 5K race and make a PR time (something in the 20:3x range....I'm a 49 year old woman, so not a shabby time for me). On none of these occasions was I trying to PR or did I even think I would (I didn't have a working watch on me). After this happened 3 times in a row, I decided that my formula to PR my 5K was: early morning swim workout, followed by a nap, followed by the lunchtime race. Mind you, I also eat a solid breakfast after the swim (oatmeal, fresh fruit, yogurt and nuts).

So basically, I really think the nap helped.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Joe Friel's Sponsors

Blue Competition Cycles
"Specialized Bikes is my newest sponsor. I’ve been impressed with their bikes for a long time so I tried one. Had to have it. What a great ride!"

D2 Shoes
"I’ve been using custom-made D2 Shoes for years. Currently on my fourth pair. And, yes, they have midsole cleats as described in my blog."

ADS Sports Eyewear \
"ADS Sports Eyewear makes all of my glasses for casualwear, reading, cycling, golf and more. Hundreds of models from all the major manufacturers."


Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner