Does stretching or doing yoga make us faster triathletes? Of and by itself no, else every “A” type triathlete would be doing it 3-6 times a week. I’m sorry to have to tell you, but the only way to get faster is by consistent and periodized sport specific training; you know, swimming, biking and running.
There’s a Kurt Vonnegut quote that I think says it all, “Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.”
Triathletes like to build, i.e., swim, bike, and run, a lot, at times ignoring the other side of being successful in our racing, recovery. By constantly stressing and loading our bodies, without taking the time to do a little maintenance work, many athletes eventually break down and/or get injured, which then forces us to set aside the time for a little TLC. So what kind of maintenance should you do?
As mentioned, stretching and yoga, done correctly, are two things to consider, as well as massage (with a masseuse or self-massage with The Stick and/or foam roller), physical therapy, Pilates, strength training, and even just walking.
The lesson that some of us, and dare I say many older athletes, have learned, it’s better to add stretching, yoga, massage, and strength training in our already busy schedules when we want them to be there, versus when our Doctor or Physical Therapist tells us we have to do them.
This is a discussion for a much longer piece, but the quick and dirty answer is that after your hardest workouts each week, your longest rides/runs, track workouts, long intervals, you should spend some time stretching, take a yoga class, get a massage, do some self-massage, to help the body recover from the stress, flush out the junk and by-products from exercise, to help speed along the healing process.
Being able to get up the day after a long, hard work out, and head out the door for another workout, maybe even a “recovery” workout, and not be in pain or tight, means that workout will also be a benefit in our drive to be faster and stronger triathletes. So in the end, yes, stretching and yoga can make you a faster triathlete, by helping you get ready for the next big workout on your schedule; you just need to spend a little time doing some maintenance.