So you decided your big dream is to become a triathlete after the age of 40?
Now here you are, sweat dripping down your face, barely catching your breath, as you’ve just wrapped up an intense triathlete-training workout and you are now supposed to do a “cooldown.”
Honestly, if you are anything like me then most of the time you just don’t feel like it.
What the heck is a cool-down for triathlete training?
Well, you’re told to sufficiently warmed up before you up your training intensity, so cooling down before you take your much-deserved shower should seem completely logical.
The definition of a cooldown is to bring your “physiological activity to return to normal gradually after strenuous activity.” Meaning: if you were running for distance for your triathlete training, your cool-down is a slow walk. If you were doing high-intensity interval sprints to increase endurance, you’ll cut back to a jog to finish. Stretching can be a big part of a cool down too, and here is my post that covers 20 ways to stretch after workouts.
Do Triathletes Need to Cooldown After a Training Workout?
Well, here’s what the promoters of cooldowns have to say:
1. Cooldowns may reduce muscles from becoming stiff and sore.
2. Cooldowns could cut down on injuries.
3. Cooldowns improve recovery rate.
There’s not a lot of science behind these 3 ideas, with the exception of stretching.
When training for your marathons, your workouts will increase blood flow to the big muscle groups in your lower body and if you stop suddenly, you could feel lightheaded. This is where walking for just a few minutes can help prevent dizziness. Cooldowns for when you feel faint or dizzy have been proven to help.
Studies now argue there are zero benefits from doing a cooldown after training. One of these studies published in the Australian Journal of Physiotherapy showed warming up can decrease muscle soreness, but not cooldowns.
So You’ve Just Had a Great Training Workout! Can You skip the Cooldown?
If you love the slowdown process of a cooldown and have time to work it into your triathlon training schedule without cutting into your workout time, go for it. Just because they haven’t proven it helps, doesn’t mean you have to skip it if you enjoy it.
If you’ve ever experienced feeling dizzy or faint after a tough triathlon exercise session, definitely make cooldowns apart of your workout plan. But if you are like me, and when you are done, you’re done, then skip the cooldown.
Are you Stretching After a Triathlete Training Workout?
I always stretch for my after-workout plan when I am training for distance but I have to admit to you that I’ve cut out cooldowns altogether and it hasn’t negatively impacted my triathlon performances. I haven’t noticed major shifts in my training workouts, endurance, or recovery experience.
What do you think? Are cooldowns a part of your triathlete dream and training?
Go get your triathlete fit on!
Heather Montgomery is a fitness writer, triathlete, and blogger who is devoted to sharing what she has learned about becoming a triathlete after age 40. She uses her Metabolic Training Certification to help other women struggling to get fit in mid-life. She lives and trains in Santa Rosa, California, the new home of the Ironman triathlon. You can find her biking the Sonoma County wine trails.