What is exercise recovery?

If you were running in the women’s 5,000m track event at the Tokyo Olympics, you learned that the heats were on 30 July but the finals were not until 2 August. In the same way, the men’s 5,000m heats were on 3 August but the final on 6 August.

What is the reason for these gaps between the heats and the finals? The science of exercise recovery. 

There are three types of exercise recovery:

  • immediate recovery, such as the instant of rest for each leg between running strides
  • short-term recovery, or the time between exercises like speed intervals or weight lifting sets during a single training block
  • training recovery, which is the time between successive training blocks or competitions.

FCTR gels are designed to be used during the training recovery window. This is because CBD, the key ingredient in FCTR gels, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects. When we train and compete, we want our muscles and connective tissues to work as efficiently as they can. We do not want to reduce our capacity to work or reduce painful sensations when we are working as hard as possible. For example: pain can indicate an acute injury during performance.

Training recovery is the period where our bodies recover from fatigue and muscle tissue damage. An effective recovery is where we can return to our base level of training effort, or even increase that base level. 

In past decades, coaches focused on adding more volume and intensity to increase athlete performance. As our understanding of the science of recovery has increased, it is now widely accepted by elite coaches and athletes that simply asking athletes to do more doesn’t work. Elite coaches know now that proper training recovery is a cornerstone of successful athletic performance.

This chart shows a standard training recovery cycle.


Time to recover

The time needed for effective recovery depends on the sport as well as the age and performance level of the athlete.

For example:

  • elite distance runners usually take 48 hours to recover from a 5,000m or 10,000m run at maximum effort (this is the reason for the Olympic scheduling mentioned above)
  • college-aged athletes who are experienced in weight training can require 48-72 hours to recover fully from a training block of 6 lifting exercises performed to failure
  • older athletes (50-65 years old) can take more than 100 hours to recover from the same weight training exercises mentioned above 


Training recovery methods

Elite athletes focus their training recovery on:

  • restoring normal body temperature and cardiovascular rates
  • rehydration (including electrolytes)
  • a proper diet
  • rest and sleep 
  • hydrotherapy and cryotherapy
  • supplements (especially those with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects)
  • massage
  • pain relief treatments including those with CBD
  • other methods including compression garments and physical treatments like vibration therapy, hyperbaric therapy and laser/photo therapy


There is a recent trend to use combination training recovery treatments, incorporating several of these methods at once.

If you are an elite athlete or coach and would like to try FCTR gels as part of your recovery plan, please contact us.


Source material:

Peake et al, Recovery after exercise: what is the current state of play? Current Opinion In Physiology (2019)

Bishop et al, Recovery From Training: A Brief Review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2008)