Recovery and the Multiple IM Season
by Kevin Coady
For the age-grouper with two races in a year, getting ready for the second ironman of the season is a different challenge depending on how quickly the athlete can recover from the first IM and how early he or she raced the first IM of the season.
There are four situations in which athletes might find themselves, depending on their ability to recover (click to enlarge the table):
Some athletes recover quickly from an ironman and some require extensive recovery. On one end of the scale are athletes who easily return to a normal training schedule within a week or two of qualifying for Kona. These athletes can do multiple IM races and their challenge is to manage how long they can keep the ball rolling at peak race fitness without going to far. I’m on the other end of the scale -- it took me seven weeks before I was able to go for a relatively normal run after IMCDA.
A Personal Example
When I was finally recovered enough to resume normal training, I found that my fitness had dropped pretty radically in the bike and run and that my connective tissue wasn’t up to anything more than 30-45 minute runs. I soon also started having pain in my foot which flared up after 30 minutes of running. Ideally I’d be able to be able to take a long time to rebuild my aerobic base and let my connective tissue heal and toughen up before jumping into big specific IM training. However, by the time I had recovered, I only had about seven weeks to build up my run and eight weeks to rebuild my bike until my two week taper.
The difficult question for me was: what do I do during those eight weeks of? If I rebuilt slowly in a way that guarantees that I’d be injury free and that I won’t overreach (training as if I’m in the first two months of a long season), then I’ll arrive at the race healthy and in a position to have an okay race (low risk, okay reward). Or, I can push to the limits of what I think I’m capable of (training more as if I’m in the last two months of a season) in order to get close to full race fitness in time for my race (high risk, high reward).
This was my first time in this position (trying to cram for an IM in two months) and I tried to find the balance between those two extremes, with mixed success. Here are the lessons that I learned for next year, which could be useful for other recovery limited athletes attempting a similar ironman double:
Kevin Coady is the latest addition to the EC contributor roster. He’ll be writing regularly with advice for the age-grouper based on his experience in the elite AG ranks and as a coach. To learn more about Kevin, read his recent EC athlete profile or visit coachcoady.com.