Ironman Recovery – What To Focus On

foam roll-IM recovery

Are you doing Ironman Arizona? Yes, I say enthusiastically.  Really, they say, as they look at me perplexed.  I have been asked this question many times in person and electronically and realized there are a lot of questions as to why I would.  So, here is the skinny.  Plus, it might help answer a few Ironman recovery questions that you may have.

Before I get started please understand what I do may or may not work for you for your Ironman recovery.  Please feel free to share what has worked for you recovery wise and any lunacy issues you have with racing an Ironman back to back.

First, let me explain that I am an adolescent triathlete and am still learning how my body responds to certain training and recovery methods.  Therefore, it is not totally crazy that I want to do two Ironmans five weeks apart.  It has been done before and many athletes will continue to do it.   Secondly, when I signed up for Ironman Arizona 2013 I did not know that I was going to qualify for Ironman World Championships 2013.

Candidly, when I qualified and signed up for World Championships 2013, I did not even think about having to race two IM’s five weeks apart.  After-all, I had just finished my first IM and had no idea what I was in store for regarding Ironman recovery.  The gravity of my commitment did not hit me until I started putting together my 2013 race calendar.  It was brought to my attention that I should consider not doing IMAZ.  That to me sounded ludicrous.  I was committed to doing both and now I simply needed to put together a race schedule that prepped me well and allowed me to discover how quickly I could recover.  After sitting down with my coach, Toby Baum, we quickly determined a series of 1/2 Ironman races I could do early in the year and then really let my body rest and train leading into World Championships and coast into IMAZ.

Races have an accumulative effect and every body responds differently.  I was discovering that mine recovers quite quickly and well.  When you google Ironman recovery, you will get a slew of answers.  I do believe that it takes about 30 days for the body to fully recover from an Ironman and sometimes longer for some people.  What you do during the first few days and the immediate following weeks really determines your rate of recovery.

therapy stickHere are the things I focused on during my Ironman recovery.  The first week I mainly swam and took my bike out two times and hiked twice (NO running).  After that I did low level workouts throughout the week and really listened to my body.  If I didn’t feel like doing it, I didn’t.   My nutrition was also really good; fueling your body properly will aid it in recovering faster.  I realize this is vague, but “good nutrition” for recovery is a whole other blog post.  Sleep is another imperative factor to recovering faster.  If you do not get enough sleep you are depriving your body’s ability to repair itself effectively.  The two days immediately following the race I wore full compression tights when I could.  After the initial soreness subsided I was diligent about foam rolling and using the therapy stick (which is one of the BEST investments you can make).  I continued with rolling about every 3 days (I should do it daily but I do not have a personal assistant).  The final thing that plays a huge role in recovery is your mental state.  I went into Ironman World Championships with a mindset that I would be racing again in five weeks. So when I finished, I was prepared to focus on recovery and what was next on my plate.  If you are mentally broken, you will be physically broken.  If you are mentally strong, your body will follow.

Lastly, why wouldn’t I do IMAZ?  It is in my backyard.  I love Ironman racing and will continue to do them as long as I am able. After I do IMAZ on November 17, 2013 I might feel differently about doing IM’s back to back, but until then I am excited and can not wait to race again!

Stay tuned.

About sherianne

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is SheriAnne Nelson and I am happily married to my husband Mike. I’m a mother of three beautiful children ages 9, almost 6, and 3, am a passionate fitness professional, and a Star Diamond Level fitness coach within the Team Beachbody program in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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