When I finished Ironman Couer d’Alene, I wasn’t in pain, I wasn’t struggling to breathe, I wasn’t completely discombobulated…I just wanted to sit down. After moving for 12 straight hours, nothing sounded better than doing nothing.
The next morning, I wasn’t really that sore either. I knew I needed to go for a 30 minute walk, but other than that, resting was my goal and I fully embraced it. Little did I know that my body would do the typical “oh I just finished a big race so go ahead immune system, let down your guard” thing.
So there you have it: I finished the race, felt solid, rested, got sick for three days, rested some more, then moved to Oregon. It was two solid weeks of doing absolutely nothing. I was right on pace with my recovery plan (sort of).
Two weeks turned into two and a half or three weeks with very minimal activity. I went hiking and did some very small runs. I heeded my coach’s advice to only run 30-40 minutes, three times a week. He also recommended swimming and cycling over running, as apparently it’s the running that really takes the most time to return to normal. But here’s the thing, my bike is still in storage, swimming is…well…swimming and if I have a choice, I will always choose running.
With Portland’s great running scene and new friends inviting me out to explore it, I couldn’t pass it up. I ran with some amazingly fast girls and kept my humbled mouth shut as we climbed their favorite routes, I got introduced to trail running and made my way through 10 miles of Forest Park, I went hiking and saw some amazing sights, and I went to new boot camps at Nike because the class offerings are amazing. When you write it all down, I think you can sum it up in four words: too much, too soon.
I met Jen yesterday for a run in her neighborhood and as we started the run, I knew that things weren’t right. My legs felt like I just ran three Ironmans back-to-back. Who filled my legs with solid concrete?!
Jen asked me if I wanted to do the 3.5 mile loop or the 6+ mile loop. I couldn’t take it and chose the 3.5 mile loop. WHAT?!?!?! I just did 112 miles and I can’t even run a 3.5 mile loop? To say I was frustrated would be an understatement.
I wrote my coach and asked him if this was normal. Thankfully, he said yes, and that I probably did too much too soon. Ugh. I also tweeted about it and some seasoned Ironman vets assured me that it takes ~6 weeks to recover from your first Ironman and as you do more, the recovery time lessens.
Needless to say, I’m anxious to get back to my normal self, to stop slogging through miles that feel much harder than they should be, and to be ready for my next round of training come August. But come on, six weeks?! Patience, grasshopper.
So here’s my PSA to any first-time Ironpeople: TAKE POST-RACE RECOVERY SERIOUSLY. You may feel fine, but your muscles are still repairing, so embrace those six weeks. Then join me for a beer so we can bitch about it.