Sunday, December 19, 2010


 "The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it."

It's hard to believe that four weeks have passed since I finished my first Ironman.
I wanted to document for anyone doing an Ironman what the recovery process looked like for me these past four weeks. This is probably a boring post unless you're considering an Ironman but I wanted to share my experience and hopefully help another "Ironman Rookie". Most of what I did was recommend by coaches and athletes with the exception of my morning after bike ride. While most recommend a swim or walking the day after an Ironman, for me an easy bike ride is the best recovery activity. I believe that because of my bike the morning after Ironman I had minimal stiffness during the 5 1/2 hour drive home. Oh and if you have compression socks or compression tights...use them! I recommend as do others with more experience than me that you resist beginning any hard training until at least three weeks after your Ironman finish.
BTW - If you are wondering why I haven't done any recovery haven't been reading my blog! :-)

Immediately after you cross the finish line and get your picture taken I strongly recommend the following:

1. Keep walking for 15 to 20 minutes. Don't sit down or lay down...unless you must. (If you have to lay down be sure to elevate your legs.)
After my finish line picture I did laps for 15 minutes around the food and massage tent to keep things from locking up I started feeling light headed like I might faint. I finally sat down for fear I would faint. My wife grabbed a coke for me and once I drank it I felt much better. I 'm sure my blood sugar was depleted. I saw countless people coming in after me exhibiting the same symptoms. Some were transported. For me the coke seemed to do the trick and brought me back to life.
2. After you have cooled down walking get some food and drink.
The cold coke I drank made me shiver uncontrollably even with my space blanket so next I grabbed cup after cup of hot chicken broth before I moved on to french fries, and then pizza.
3. Get your massage.
Don't pass up on your free message. This may be the most important part of your recovery. I felt a little embarrassed because I know I reeked horribly.

MONDAY The day after Ironman - After getting a solid eight hours of sleep I woke up this morning determined to get in my short recovery bike ride of maybe 10 miles. As soon as I stood up out of bed and tried to walk every muscle and tendon below my waist begin to seize. My wife gave me a worried look thinking I was going to fall over. I took a quick inventory, my achilles that had bothered me all thru training did not want to function. Both knees that I have had few problems with were stiff and sore. My right hip and IT band were sore and stiff. I somehow managed to hobble to the coffee maker knowing that a cup of coffee often cures all that ails. As long as I kept moving things seemed to get better. I manged to get in a nine mile bike at a 13 MPH pace. I felt pretty good except for the very sore knees when I stood on the pedals to start at an intersection.. I received some strange looks by other athletes as I was riding by them at our hotel. I'm sure they figured I DNF'd since that would be the only reason someone would be on their bike today. After a shower I put on my compression socks for the drive home. My wife drove the first half back to SoCal while I napped and then I felt so good I drove the second half home. We did stop twice to stretch and do some walking. My feeling is the bike did me good especially before the long drive. I was stiff but moving well all day.
TUESDAY - Today there is no doubt I've been hit with a severe cold including night sweats last night. I did walk 1.5 miles to keep loose and get some green tea. The walk felt good and I was moving almost normally with the exception of getting out of bed in the morning. I'm pounding down OJ and vitamins hoping to get better. It's obvious that this illness is a result of my depleted body. I've been thru this before after a Half Ironman.
WEDNESDAY - I'm feeling terrible today. Not because I did an Ironman three days ago but because of this cold virus. My body is actually feeling pretty good with free range of movement. I'm just tired. If it wasn't for being sick I would have done a very short easy ride today. Instead I went grocery shopping for 45 minutes and was exhausted.
THURSDAY - Can we cancel Thanksgiving? Total rest day today and thank God for my awesome cousin Eric and his wife Tammy who prepared most of the meal today.
FRIDAY - Finally feeling better. Walked 1.5 miles today with my daughter to get green tea. My body is wanting physical activity which is a good sign. The only thing bothering me is my calf that cramped on race day.
SATURDAY -  Did an easy small chain ring spin for 13 miles today. My right calf is still tight. and my legs were unusually tired for such an easy ride. Still fighting a cold. I'm not sure if my body is tired form the Ironman the cold or both.

TUESDAY - Today I did my 18 mile bike training route that includes a 1.5 mile 5% percent grade. Even though I felt great I only averaged 15 MPH on a course that I usually average 18-19 MPH on. When I returned home I still had a tiredness that seemed incongruent with the workout I just did. This is typical at this stage of recovery from an Ironman.
SATURDAY - My wife and I did a 16 mile ride today with some speed...only because my wife likes to race me! For the first time I felt like I had some speed on the bike two weeks after Ironman. I actually felt energized after this ride like I normally would but I can feel my body is still not ready for a hard workout.
SUNDAY - Two weeks to the day after Ironman Arizona I did my first run. Many coaches say this is the earliest you should run after an Ironman and it should be easy and short. I originally planned on doing seven miles but decided to change my route to make it four miles and I'm glad I did. My legs felt great and I intentionally ran an easy pace (9:20 min. mi.) but after my "easy" run my legs felt tired the rest of the day.

MON. - THURS. - I decided to take a no workout approach to these days. I'm mostly over the cold virus I've been battling and I'm feeling rested. I thought about doing a workout or two but it's cold and dark and I figure my body can use the rest to fully recover from the virus. Besides I'm enjoying the idea of relaxing at home at night without the pressure of trying to fit in a prescribed workout after work.
FRIDAY - Did my second Post Ironman run of four miles while staying below 75% of my MHR. I ran a 9:02 pace and felt great. I wanted to run faster but figured I would save energy for tomorrows bike.
SATURDAY - Today I did my first "race pace" group ride post Ironman of 41 miles. I was a little nervous to test my legs on this ride because it is known as a very fast and tough ride at times. During the flat sprint section of the ride I had a hard time staying on a wheel once it got to 30 MPH but  overall I rode surprisingly well. I couldn't stay with the leaders but I didn't get dropped either. I feel like I could resume normal training on the bike at this point.
SUNDAY - I did what was supposed to be an easy 4 mile run with my wife Liz but as it turned out the last two miles my HR was up to 85% as we ran a 8 minute mile.  When I told her my goal was to keep my HR below 75% she just smiled and said she was letting me set the pace...hmmm. This was the first time since IMAZ training  that I've worked out for three consecutive days. It was a hard run but I felt good with no pain of any kind.

This should be the week that my body is fully recovered from Ironman. As you can see I've done very little as far as workouts go. Most of it is I just felt the need for rest but it's also the end of the year and the off season for bike racing as well as triathlons so I'm not really motivated to push myself.
MON. - WEDS. - No work out scheduled
THURSDAY - Today I did my 18 mile bike training route that includes a 1.5 mile 5% percent grade. After averaging 15MPH in week two I averaged 17 MPH this time. My legs are recovered and coming back.
 SUNDAY - It's been raining since Friday so no bike for me and I'm not motivated to get on the trainer so I did a 5 mile run in the rain. My legs felt good and although I can tell my fitness is down, I pushed the pace a little and ending up running the same pace as last Sunday with my wife at a lower HR. I felt no residual soreness or effects from Ironman Arizona and if it were spring time I would be going back in to full training mode.