Updated: Aug 12
Read time: 2min
By Coach Yan Busset
The title may seem a bit clickbait and surprising, especially coming from a professional triathlon coach. However, I genuinely believe that the time an age grouper dedicates to training is a precious currency and should focus on quality over junk miles, aiming straight for the goal. Before diving deeper into why I think cooldown and stretching during a session are overrated, it's essential not to skip the part that is often shortened by time-crunched athletes: the warm-up. The more intense your interval session will be, the more extensive your warm-up should be. A proper warm-up allows you to execute your session to the best of your abilities and serves as an injury prevention policy, especially for age groupers approaching or already in their "MAMIL" OR "MAWIL" era.
The goals of the warm-up are multiple:
• Increased blood flow to muscles
• Elevated heart rate
• Improved joint lubrication
• Activation of the nervous system
• Mental preparation for exercise
• Reduced muscle stiffness
A proper warm-up should last at least 10-20 minutes and include an easy-paced swim, bike, or run followed by some progressive accelerations. If the workout involves high-intensity efforts, it should be completed with a mobility and muscle activation routine rather than stretching.
You can compare stretching your muscle to a spring: if you overstretch or pull it too hard, it loses its elasticity and becomes less effective. Stretching right before exercise can be counterproductive and may temporarily decrease muscle strength and performance. Active stretching is a better option, but I prefer to prescribe a whole-body mobility and activation routine to complete the workout rather than stretching. Don't get me wrong; stretching itself is good, but timing matters. If you want to use stretching to improve your flexibility, do it outside the training session period. Dedicate a specific session to it where you can perform long static stretching.
Here are some examples of muscle activation routine moves I recommend before running intervals:
* Glute bridge
* Bird dog
* Donkey kicks
Skip the cooldown.
If you have limited time to dedicate to training, I recommend you focus on a more extensive warm-up and skip the cooldown. A good shower, walking back to the bus, or commuting by bike will be good enough. Nothing is black and white; keeping a cooldown could be useful in some situations. For example, if you have a meeting right after and don't want to arrive all sweaty, it can help. Also, if you plan to do multiple training sessions that day and have extra time to spare, a cooldown might be beneficial. Additionally, if you train with a group, there is a great social aspect to it, making it a great time for a post-workout debrief with teammates. However, apart from these scenarios, you are better off showering and moving on to maximize your training volume with quality.
If you are curious to know more about interval training, you can read this "Beginner's Guide to Triathlon Interval Training"
That’s it for today, thank you for reading, stay sharp, train hard to race easy and make it fun!
Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:
1. If you are looking for support for your triathlon journey, I recommend you book a 30min 1on1 video consultation with me here.
2. If you are looking for an online coaching service check here.
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