Recovery & refocus!

So its now a good couple of weeks post Ironman race, I’ve had a small holiday and a nice little rest period to recover.  Now its time to re-focus on the next target.  The art of recovering from an ironman triathlon is one that takes some real effort.  You question every little niggle and tickle!  You actually feel ready, relaxed and recovered when sitting on the couch, then you start a training session and you never feel as good as you expected or hoped! I am discovering there is a fine line between too much too soon and not enough soon enough!  Where that line is remain a complete mystery to me.

2017 post IM metricsCapture

I am however using my metrics as a guide, my resting and training session heart rate gives me some indicator and also the old self check-in’s are valuable tools also.  I have blogged about the rules of thumb for endurance event recovery times previously.  In that blog I referenced a couple of articles that put numbers on recovery time frames:

Patrick McCrann “Bouncing Back From Ironman” on the Active website (Bouncing Back From Ironman):

“Week One: As the initial days pass, you actually feel better.

Weeks Two and Three: This is the Honeymoon Phase, where you feel good enough to work out, but really shouldn’t.

Week Four and Beyond: This is the Transition Phase. If you have been recovering well and have felt good enough to include some consistent aerobic activity, then you could be ready to transition back to your regular training.”

Gale Bernhardt article titled “Determining Your Race Recovery Time” also on the Active website (Determining your race recovery time):

“A quick guide to estimate race recovery time for Triathlon Races: three to five days per hour of racing

So based on the above 3 days per hour of racing I should be feeling good around day 33 out to 55, based on the 11 hours of racing in New Zealand.  I am currently at day 36/37 post Ironman and feel pretty good.  Although the weekend proved that I don’t have a huge amount of speed in the legs & even small events can knock the stuffing out of me for a day or two!

I had grand plans for the weekend snapping me out of the slightly negative mindset I have had post Ironman.  It wasn’t the result I wanted and to be perfectly honest it does bother me.  So my theory was simple, find an event I could gain some confidence from.  Then two events popped up and fitted the bill perfectly, they just happened to be on the same weekend on the Gold Coast.  So I entered the 3km Cooly Classic Ocean swim, which started at Snapper Rocks and heads west across Coolangatta beach and finishes on Kirra Beach, some 3km later.  I also entered the Luke Harrop Memorial Jewel Gold Coast Sprint Triathlon.  A sprint distance 750m swim, 20km bike & 5km run on the proposed location for the GC18 Commonwealth Games triathlon.  An event on the Saturday and the Sunday, easy right, I’m an ironman, I got this.  I than had a brain wave to add in an early morning 5km parkrun on the way to the swim.  So now I am doing 3 high intensity session over the 2 days, what could go wrong!  Here’s the results:

Broadbeach Waters parkrun – results – I finished 4/56 in a time of 21:00.

Coolie Classic Ocean Swim – 3km Results – I finished 28/80 male & 45/123 overall.

Luke Harrop Memorial Gold Coast Triathlon 2017 Results – I finished 10/62 in my age group & 178/949 overall.


I was stoked with my parkrun, a solid 5km in a neat 21 minutes, awesome confidence building stuff.   A coffee and Acai bowl for breakfast and then onto the ocean swim.  I was feeling pretty happy with myself and decided on the beach to don the wetsuit for the ocean swim.   It turned out to be a reasonable decision, as conditions were tough, the swell was rolling in a good couple of feet high, which made spotting buoys a little tricky.  However the current was in our favor for most of the swim.  There were a couple of sand bars as we approached Kirra beach making the exit a little tricky and a long run up to the finish line through knee-deep water and some soft sand just to really ensure you knew you’d done a 3km ocean swim!  Then just to top of the day, I decided to roll the 12km from my hotel to the transition area to register and rack my bike for the triathlon on the Sunday morning!  All in all a pretty busy Saturday, nothing overly long, but all activities complete at fairly high intensity!


Sunday was all about the sprint distance triathlon and remembering all mates.  Luke & the Harrop’s were part of a Brisbane based club we training together for a couple of years before they made the jump to the Gold Coast.  This race remains a great memorial to a great up and coming athlete.  It should also serve as a reminder of how dangerous our roads are and that we can never be too careful while out riding our bikes.  It was almost perfect conditions for the race, at the new venue.  The venue they were testing for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Triathlon event.  It was awesome, from the food stalls to the grassy areas, to the venue in general, everything was almost perfectly setup for this event.


A tide assisted swim, a wind affected bike (although this years was tame compared to others I have done) and a super flat new run course.  About half wa through the swim I started the feel the effects of yesterdays activities, losing the feet of Pete Murray (the voice of Ironman Asia-Pacific) and the arms struggle to keep a good rhythm!   Out onto the bike and this course is always affected by wind in one direction, today was no different, although maybe not as bad as previous years.  I embraced the burn however couldn’t seem to generate the power I had dreamed about or hope to generate.  The joy of sprint distance racing, it is over quickly, all of a sudden I was back in transition heading out onto the run!  Again this was sluggish, I just could seem to turn the legs over like I wanted to, but I kept pushing through to the end, crossing the line to run into Loretta Harrop (Sydney 2000 triathlon silver medalist), Luke’s sister.  It had been a long time, we had a brief chat and I went to collapses in a heap somewhere.


I have said it before and I’ll say it again, sprint distance racing is harder than Ironman!  The mindset is so totally different & today I struggle with the keep pushing, go fast mantra.  Ironman is all about conserve, bide your time, as hard as easily possible, sprint distance racing is all out as hard as you can for as long as you can and hold on!  I am sore now and will enjoy a recovery week, before launching into an epic 2 month before my next ironman.  Am I still feeling the effects of ironman New Zealand?  Probably, the intensity of the weekends racing has bought to the surface all sort of aches and pains that I’ll deal with this week!

I have recently been following an epic endurance event here in Australia, the Indy Pacific Wheel Race, if you haven heard of it follow the link and have a read.  Unfortunately this years event ended prematurely with the death of a British cyclist Mike Hall, may he rest in peace and ride safely forever more.  But the weeks of following this event continual gave me a little perspective into what fatigue and hurt really area. These guys aimed to ride solo, unsupported, across Australia, covering 5,500km!  Backing up day after day after day was truly inspirational.  I cant wait to watch again next year!

If you’re not active at the moment & need some inspiration, follow me on Strava, Instagram and like my facebook page and let’s get back out there swim, bike or running.   Make sure you subscribe so you never miss a blog post from me!  The biggest regret we can have in life is to not TRI!

TriathleteTed on Strava

TriathleteTed on Instagram

Triathlete Ted on Facebook

Till next time build consistency, keep smiling and live to Tri!

5 thoughts on “Recovery & refocus!

    1. Wow, which race is he doing? I’m heading to Cairns for my 4th in June after doing New Zealand (my 3rd ironman) in March and planning on doing Bussleton (WA) in December as my 5th! So 2017 is planning on being epic!

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