So one thing that I did not anticipate about this whole Ironman recovery thing is how long it would last. I figured, a few weeks of sleeping in, and a few more of light workouts and I’d be good as new and ready to crush my former PR at the America’s Finest City Half Marathon on August 19. Unfortunately my body isn’t on the same page as my mind.
After taking 2 solid weeks off of all working out and then spending the next two weeks slowly getting back into things with some running, yoga and random workout classes (about 5 hours of workouts per week with lots of sleeping in), I thought that all that rest might add some pep to my step by week 5. During the first few runs I had after the Ironman, I felt pretty bad. My pace was slow, my heart rate high. I expected this. Luckily most of the runs were with friends so I could chat it up and ignore the discomfort. I didn’t push the pace and ran at paces I haven’t seen on my Garmin in a very long time (with the exception of some of those dreadful 16-20 mile Sunday runs following a 80-100 mile Saturday bike ride). I was ok with this since I knew that I was still in recovery mode. My body just went through something pretty epic and it’s probably pretty freaking tired.
However, now that we’re in post-race week 6, I’m ready for my body to snap out of the funk. I’m not quite so patient anymore. I’m eager to get back into some solid running and I’m ready to start seeing some encouraging heart rates and average paces on Garmin Connect. However, my body isn’t on board with my plan. Although last Monday I did have a nice, pretty comfortable run without focusing on pace, I was running at a 9:50 min/mile! Not even close to the 8 min/miles I need for a sub-1:45. Then Friday Asia and I ran 60 minutes together with a negative split on the 2nd half (per her coach) and we felt like we were really pushing it on that second half only to find our average pace for 7 miles was 9:10. Both of our average heart rates were way too high. It’s clear I need more time to recover.
As of now, my goal of a sub-1:45 half marathon is no where in sight for AFC and honestly, I’m not sure I will even PR. This bothered me quite a bit in the beginning and now I’ve become slightly more accepting of it, but it still is hard for me to deal with. I’ve never not PRed in a race and next year I want to qualify for Boston. To qualify for Boston, I need to run a 8:15 min/mile for 26.2 miles. According to McMillan, this means I should be able to bust out a 1:42 half marathon. I was hoping to run a 1:45 half at AFC to give me the confidence that I can run a 1:42 later in the season and also qualify for Boston in early 2013.
You may say, “WHO cares how fast you run!? Does it really matter?” No, it really doesn’t. And I’m working on being ok with it not mattering. When I start the AFC half marathon it will have only been 8 weeks since the Ironman and I need to remind myself that my time isn’t going to be an indicator of whether or not I can qualify for Boston next year. Instead, I need to remember that my body is STILL recovering from the Ironman and if I push it too hard now, I’m going to mess it up. My thoughts need to be on the long term, not short term. Easier said than done but I’m working on it!
Are you as impatient as me when it comes to recovery? If you have raced an Ironman, did it take you this long to recover?