After watching IM Mont-Tremblant and IM Copenhagen this weekend where both Alyssa Godesky and Rachel Joyce had great results just 3 weeks after IM Canada, it got me thinking a lot about ironman recovery and how my views have changed over these last few years.
For many people, the thought of doing more than one ironman in a year seems impossible. Even I was someone who said they would never do an ironman less than 3 months apart. But now I realize that doing back to back races is all about mentality. For most people, Ironman is the pinnacle of their season, literally the top of the mountain, months of work culminating to this one moment on that one day. But for others its just a step, like riding the ridge instead.
The day after Ironman Canada on our post-race bike ride (which ironically was also on the list of things I said I’d never do), Alyssa said that she had no clue how she ever did back to back Ironmans. I kind of laughed to myself because I’m sure she says that the day after every ironman including the ones she did only a week apart.
So that’s really my point, Ironman is hard for everyone, and I don’t think there is an athlete out there, pro or amateur, that doesn’t say during or immediately after that “I’ll never do that again”. But I find as things become automatic, like riding the day after, or just pushing through the sh*t workouts as you recover and really not thinking much about them. Basically just moving through each day and mentally relaxing knowing things will come around, that the body comes around quickly and it turns out the mind recovers too.
This was a hard concept for me to grasp, even last year, Hillary had to give me a pep talk before I attempted, as she referred to it, “my double”, which was two ironman races 9 weeks apart. The mind needs a break just as much as the body. Literally just turning off the thoughts, what I didn’t understand is that you can turn off the thoughts AND continue to train well. Every workout doesn’t have to be consumed with thoughts of bike splits and run paces and winning the next event.
This life actually starts to feel more sustainable now that every ironman isn’t a singular focus for months at a time. Don’t get me wrong, the training is all-consuming, but I don’t need laser focus. I take the training and the races as they come, month by month, not too much thinking ahead, executing good workouts but also not reading too much into them, and finding something to enjoy about everything.
I’m not at the point of back to back, but today I could race, and that’s huge progress. I still have days where I wish I could just sit around and do nothing, where training is a massive chore. But more often training has become automatic without any thought I just execute and this alone has been massively liberating.