Coach Tip Tuesday: Ask Not “Do I have the time to train?”; Ask “Do I have the time to recover?”

Posted On:
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
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A black and white photo of a man wearing a tank top.  He is looking up toward several illuminated light bulbs that are hanging independently above him.

We’ve made it to yet another Coach Tip Tuesday!

This week, we’re going to discuss a bit of the thought process that I encourage athletes to go through when they are goal setting for themselves.

As we’ve talked about, saying yes to a goal is always going to require saying no to something else.  Over the years, I have found that athletes may not have a full sense of what they are saying yes or no to when they decide to embark on the path toward a goal.

Most athletes who I have worked with will innately ask themselves, “Do I have the time to train?” as part of their decision-making process about whether or not to say yes to a particular goal.  This week, I want to turn this on its head a little bit, and tell you all that while this is a good question to ask, there is actually another question you should be asking yourselves that is far more important:

“Do I have the time to recover?”

Most people who set endurance-based goals have the capacity and ability to work hard.  Therefore, doing the training itself is actually the “easier” part of the training equation.  What is harder is actually taking the time to recover.

I truly believe that anyone can find it within themselves to pound out the training needed to succeed at a goal.  What I’ve observed, however, is that most folks discount how important recovery is.  Recovery is where the gains are made; in order to elicit the physiological adaptations needed to make progress and successfully reach your goals, you need time to recover.

Therefore, this - whether or not you have the time to recover - becomes an essential question when charting a journey to your goals.  As your training time/intensity increases, your recovery needs will increase exponentially.  That’s right, this isn’t a 2 + 3 = 5 equation; it’s a 23 = 8 equation.  So when you consider the training time demands that will be placed on you as you get closer to a goal (i.e. when you enter your final Build, Competition, and Peak Phases of training), you also need to consider the compounded time that you will be required to dedicate to recovery if you want to make the most out of that training time that you have so diligently carved out.

An important part of this conversation is discussing what recovery IS.  One of the best places to start when answering this question to address what recovery isn’t:

  • Using a Rest Day (a day off of workouts) to complete physically-intensive projects around the house or in the yard and then resuming a normal workout schedule right away
  • A stressful day at work
  • Sacrificing sleep to get a workout in
  • Working a job (full or part-time) from home while simultaneously having to be the sole caregiver to small children or overseeing their homeschooling during the same hours
  • Fast food as recovery fuel
  • Neglecting hydration
  • Skipping stretching, mobility work, warm-ups, cool-downs, recovery intervals, and/or strength work when pressed for time

Recovery IS:

  • Properly transitioning the body in and out of workouts and harder intervals
  • Stretching
  • Mobility work
  • Giving yourself an appropriate sleep opportunity (7-9 hours) every day (a sleep opportunity does differ from actual time spent sleeping)
  • Hydrating well every day, not just on long workout days
  • Ensuring you have good, nutritious food on-hand for ease of access when you are hungry
  • Using days off of workouts to allow the body to REST (i.e. no “bonus” workouts or hard/physically-intensive projects around the house)

Racing is coming back.  [Insert happy dance here!]  As you start to dream again and plan your goals, be sure to ask yourself this important question: “Do I have time to recover?”  Whether or not you have (or make ;) ) the time to recover from your training may just be the deciding factor as to whether you survive or thrive in your goal event. :)


Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at

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