It’s been about a 43 days since I completed Ironman Arizona and I can honestly say that I am now just starting to feel normal again. The initial soreness and obvious fatigue was gone by the first week after the race. However, I knew that I was still not close to being back to normal. When you consider the taper going into the race, the demands of the Ironman itself, and the subsequent recovery, it’s no surprise that your body is not the same after an Iron distance triathlon.
I had 11 Ironman athletes complete Ironman Arizona and I decided to write this as a follow up to the overriding concern – “When will I feel normal and fast again?” So many of my Ironman athletes expressed concerns about their loss of fitness post Ironman. First of all, I want to reassure everyone that this is normal and expected. Secondly, this flat feeling will pass. Finally, be patient and allow yourself to rebuild slowly.
A true peak in racing form results in a loss of fitness after this peak is achieved. Sure you can aim for multiple peaks in a season, but Iron-distance triathlons make this feat a little more difficult. You have to accept this loss of fitness otherwise you will drive yourself crazy.
You will not get back to your Iron-distance speed anytime soon. Please don’t expect to feel the same way you felt the weeks and month leading into the Ironman. Think about how long it took to feel like it was “normal” to ride and run as long as you did. We built up volume and intensity over time and only time will allow you to rebuild your fitness.
Here is a little of my training experience I would like to share with you:
I started completing short workouts about 6 days after the Ironman. I have gradually added distance to these workouts.
Run – None of my runs so far(now we are at about 43 days post IM) have been close to my average Ironman marathon pace. Sure there have been times that I have run faster for a mile or two, but my average pace for every single run so far has been slower than my race day Ironman marathon pace. I accept it, embrace it, and tell myself to be patient. Today was the first day since IMAZ that I have felt like I have a little “spring” in my step. I can see the upswing in my future.
Bike – I recently completed two field tests(20 minute all out time trials one on a computrainer ) to establish my baseline power zones so that my training will reflect my current fitness. Keep in mind that this is on a computrainer so variables such as wind and terrain are eliminated and it just measures power in watts. My power numbers are depressing compared to what the same test showed in the months leading up to the Ironman. My two tests show a 20 – 23% reduction in power – that’s pretty significant. I accept it, embrace it, and tell myself to be patient.
Maintaining peak fitness cannot be done year round. That is, unless you want your year round fitness to be a scaled down version of your full potential. Accept it, embrace it and be patient.
Ironman Arizona athletes, December is going to be the slowest you will be all year, January will be your slow come back, and by February you will start feeling like you can race again. Hang in there.