As I mentioned in my race report, I was painfully sore the night of the race. I felt like one giant bruise. Driving home 13 hours on Monday didn't exactly help that either, and the lack of sleep leading into Tuesday made me question whether I was human or not. By Wednesday though, my body was feeling pretty darn good physically and by the end of the week I felt amazing! No pain, no soreness, no problem. Except the sleep thing. I couldn't quite seem to catch up on that, regardless of whether or not I slept eight, ten or even fourteen hours a night.
Last Wednesday, I met my friends for the first night of a fall XC trail series that we're all racing.
Boy, if only I knew what I was getting myself into.
That 5K run (done in high temps and high humidity, for Edmonton at least) did absolutely nothing for my confidence. My legs felt as if they had never run before. I thought I was going to throw up every five minutes. The course, which should have been exciting as it's part of the loop I run a few times each week with the dogs, left me walking the uphills. I had thrown in the towel a minute in. But I held on and finished the race, albeit with a slow (for me) and deflating time of 27.38 for the 5K.
After an evening of pitying myself, I started researching how to properly recover from an Ironman. You know, something I should have done months ago. After all, I had just raced an Ironman. How in the world could my body not handle a 5K? I can do anything now! I'm an Ironman!
Turns out Ironman Recovery is the real deal. It's worse than Ironman Taper. It sucks all life out and you, makes you feel utterly useless and really tests your spouse's patience. Trust me on this one.
Here's what my research led me to find:
- You're feeling good and you're still riding the Ironman high, but your body is nowhere near ready for the exercise circuit you had been putting it through previously.
- Also known as time to reacquaint yourself with your loved ones, pets, favorite couch, bed and foods that you haven't eaten in months.
Weeks Two and Three
- Also known as the honeymoon phase, this is where you feel good enough to work out but actually shouldn't.
- And if you do decide to push it, you will fall flat pretty quickly. Don't expect much from yourself. (Well, phew, that explains my 5K performance!)
- Swimming is fine, cycling is OK if done easily and to spin out the legs, and running is not recommended until at week three at least. And the run should be very, very easy. (Now I'm really starting to feel better about that 5K...)
- Editor note #1: this was also the period during which I had my first post-Ironman meltdown. Cue full-on 'my life has no meaning/I'm so miserable/I'm so lonely/I'm so fat and out of shape' with tears meltdown. And nothing could convince me otherwise. I guess that's the norm, but it was NOT fun.
- Editor note #2: surprisingly, I also ran an 8K race (the second of the aforementioned series) during this time period and enjoyed it much more as I paced myself to go out slow and test my legs. On lap two I was feeling pretty good, so I negative split the race and pulled in a 48.33 for the 8K. Certainly not my fastest, but I was happy that I lowered my expectations and decided to just have fun with it and enjoy it.
- Ahh, the transition phase, where you're about ready to get back to normal training.
- Cycling intervals are good and light running is OK, but don't be too overzealous and suck the fun out of your training.
And racing. When should that happen? Turns out, the answer is six to eight weeks out of race day. Six weeks is seemingly the minimum amount of time to have a repeat performance and eight weeks is more likely to place you in PR range. So my 5K race just 10 days out of Ironman? That surely won't happen again in the future. You know, after my next Ironman ;)