The Other Side of Ironman: Rest, Recovery, & Real Life

After completing 140.6 miles, some would say I’m back to life. I’ve stayed up passed my bedtime, drank a few glasses of wine, and my running shoes have collected piles of dust. I’m not going to lie - I have enjoyed the rewards of the off-season, but I feel quite removed from some of the things I love the most.

People have been telling me all year that I might experience the “post Ironman blues” after completing my epic swim, bike, and run adventure. They’ve said it’s tough on the other side - that there’s a sense of depression and a yearning for more. Well, some of that was true for me. Luckily, it was more positive than negative. I sure did finish wanting to do it again. I wanted to literally get back to my hotel and sign up for the next race so that I could keep the good-vibe juices flowing. But then I remembered that small little issue that sits below…that damn ankle sprain.

One week off was easy to take. I gorged on the foods I was missing, I didn’t wake up at 5am for time trial workouts, and I honestly felt I deserved the time off. Two weeks later, I got the itch to get back on track, but my ankle MRI results served me with 8 more weeks of no running. So while my team has been marathon training and enjoying the end of summer and early fall temps, I’ve been battling the inner voice that’s constantly telling me to slow down when all I want to do is go, go, go.

A muffin stop on our casual weekend ride with the Terrier Tri team. 

Now, injury is never fun for anyone, but if I want to see the bright side of this then I’m definitely happy that the rest period is after my biggest physical accomplishment. I’m trying to embrace the fact that this is truly my most important time to get back to the basics. Sure, I had to say adios to doing the NYC Marathon (I was signed up to be an athlete's guide for Achilles International) and I have limitations as to what I can do when it comes to working out, but I’m kind of a human being again. The running joke has been that I’m back to being an active member of society, where I make plans with friends, not worry about the time, and workout for fun (for fun!) It’s funny how I almost forgot that there is life outside of triathlon training, and I’m reminded that my next training season is quickly approaching so I need to do everything in my power to REST, RELAX, and ENJOY the now.

Back in the saddle!

Enterting the ring at Trinity Boxing in NYC!

Sure, I’m a few pounds heavier, and though I’ve complained to everyone about it, it’s really not a big deal, so I should probably shut it. My body is probably like THANK YOU BRITTANY FOR CARING ABOUT ME. You don’t realize what you’ve done to your body and soul until you’ve taken it through eight months of constant swim, bike, and run strain, coupled with excessive amounts of carbo and protein-loading. What I’ve learned is that it’s OK to rest, it’s OK to recover, it’s OK to have a glass, it’s OK to eat certain foods and not have ways to burn them off. It’s all OK. So, that word - “ok” - has become my default this past month. I’m learning that perfection ain’t a thing. And health, well, that doesn’t mean 7 days a week of working out. It can mean 3 days of working out, smiling and spending time still the suns comes up, and sleeping in....oh my goodness, how I've missed sleeping in!!
Since completing the race on August 16th, I've dusted off my road bike C.C. and taken her on some great casual rides. I forgot how at ease I’ve felt on that bike. I’ve also kept up with swimming, incorporating the pull buoy to avoid kicking that would further damage my ankle. As well, I have taken up boxing and weight training - two activities I can do without impact to my feet. Some days I want to join the runners in the park, since running is in fact my favorite means of transportation and the beat of my heart when it comes to fitness. But it’s OK. Because on the other side of all of this recovery is another Ironman. Yep. January begins my road to Ironman Lake Placid 2016. For seven months, I’ll be working my butt off, so I guess a little R&R and a few glasses of rose ain’t so bad in the meantime!

But just because I’m half on the sidelines doesn’t mean YOU should slack off! I’m pulling in inspiration from all of you and your incredible efforts training for late season triathlons, and of course the bulk of you with marathon training. You can really appreciate these sports when you take a back seat and watch what’s around you. When the little break in my foot fills back up, I look forward to running with you all. In the meantime, kick some butt and remember that it’s OK to enjoy yourself once in a while.


*By the way, since I've had the time, I decided to join Twitter! Hit me up at @brittforgione