Recovery and then preparation for another race really starts way before the six weeks in between. It’s all about the last 10-12 weeks of training leading up to the first race, and how well your prep has gone, how many consistent weeks of training you’ve had in your build-up and what you’ve focused on – either speed for a 70.3 or pure strength for the Ironman. Also, if both are your key races, one is not just a training race. The result from the 70.3 could be a massive bump-up in confidence and also fitness.
Focus on recovery
I’m guessing your training would’ve been slightly more 70.3-focused to give you a bit of zip in your legs, especially in your run and bike training – more level-3 and sweet-spot work on the bike (in full aero position!) and some nice, longer swing sets on the run, between 10km, 70.3 and Ironman pace.
So, if the first race is all good and you’ve nailed that bad boy – fingers crossed, you won’t have picked up any injuries or niggles – I’d really focus on recovery for the first seven days or so. Straight after the race, have a protein shake or bar, and get hydrated with electrolytes. Make sure you eat well within the first 24 hours – maybe with a cheeky celebratory pint or a glass of red!
But the first 24 hours, if done well, can really make the next seven to 10 days a lot easier. Oh, and don’t forget to put some compression tights/leggings or calf guards on – every little helps!
Keep the body moving
Maybe book a massage or an appointment with your physio, and try to keep the body moving – light, easy and often. I recommend swims and bike rides in the first four days – but crazy easy. These aren’t really to gain fitness but to help flush the legs and arms out.
I’d also jump into a hot bath infused with Epsom salts (about 1kg of the salts) on the Tuesday night just before bed, but stay hydrated in the bath. Or if your pool/gym has a hot tub, that could be a good idea.
And only run when your body is well on the way to recovery – maybe the Thursday after the race, but listen to the body!
I’d say by day seven you might be able to do a longer weekend of bike/run, but don’t rush any intensity too early as the race will have bumped you up in fitness if you’ve respected the body and listened to it in terms of recovery in the first seven to 10 days.
Get your head down
Come 10-12 days afterwards, I’d be pretty keen to jump on Zwift and start to get my head down for the Ironman. At 14 days after the race, maybe some longer rides and runs with a bit of quality in there.
By three weeks, you could do a super long weekend/race simulation with a 160km bike and then a 10-12km run-off (with 8-10km at Ironman race pace). Then back that day up with a longer run time on your feet – not at a specific distance – and finish off the day with another 30-40min run as well.
Fuel for a race
The key to a weekend like that is fuelling well leading up to the weekend and in between the sessions. On the bike and run I’d do 100% race-day nutrition, in terms of calories and fluid per hour, and exactly what you’d use on race day – the same products and flavours. Race the same as you train when it comes to fuelling – it’s something you can control, so why not train the body in training so race day it’s ready to fuel up and absorb as much as possible.
In the last two to three weeks, I’d do the normal pre-weeks’ work you’ve done before for any other Ironman you’ve done (if you have done one before?!). If you haven’t, listen to your coach or the plan you’re following and trust and believe in the process.
Enjoy the process
Enjoy the entire process and, of course, the races themselves – all that hard work is worth a smile on the bike and especially on the run. Will it be easy?! Hell, no! But that’s why we do it, mate. Best of mechanical luck out there!
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