It is now almost eight weeks since the Boulder Ironman and I am fully recovered and training for next year. It took me five weeks to recover from the Ironman and over all I was de-training (as it is called) for seven weeks. The two weeks prior I reduced my training and increased my calories to be rested and energized for the race. So with the exception of that one, really long race day, I dogged it for seven weeks.
Recovery over the first three weeks after the race was aggravatingly slow. My heart rate was 9 BPM higher than before the race (53 versus 44). Climbing stairs tired my legs. And I had a complete meltdown on an easy run and had to drag myself home.
Now, in some ways, I am faster than I was prior to the race. In getting ready for next year (more on that another time) I have benchmarked my 10K run and 100 yard swims and I am a little and a lot faster respectively. The bike is a different story.
The bike benchmark shows the real affect of the race. The benchmark on the bike is the average wattage of a 20-minute all-out ride divided by my weight in kilograms or watts/kg. This is a real measure of high-effort fitness.
The short answer is my power and endurance are both down. And not just on the bike. If I raise my level of exertion running, swimming or cycling above my Ironman pace I fatigue quickly. The improvement in swimming and running is purely because I have concentrated on efficiency and so for the same level of effort I go faster. I was already efficient on the bike so the loss of top-end power (and a few extra pounds) really shows up.
It is clear why at 67 it takes about 12 weeks, at best, to recover from an Ironman. I could probably be physically ready for another Ironman in 5 or 6 weeks but there is no way mentally.
A group of my friends, mostly older than me, had a cake to celebrate my finishing the Ironman. One of those friends was asked if he—a good runner—would ever do an Ironman. He said he had better sense than to do something that took a year of training, lasted all day, and took three months to recover from.
I missed his point.
What to do next year?