A popular question asked a lot by age grouper long distance triathletes is ‘How do you race so much?’ First of all, like most, racing is a passion and I love to do it – this is why we all train so hard; to be able to compete and see if the hard work has paid off. It is also the measuring stick of your triathlon journey. It is important to view racing as a small continuous blip in your overall path to reach your athletic goals yet it is absolutely the most enjoyable part!
Now, back to the question of how an individual can race so much? In 2015, I was fortunate enough to toe the line twelve times in a combination of half and full Ironman distance races. Like every racer, the body understandably wasn’t 100% for a lot of those races yet everyone is facing their own battle leading up to and on race day. It is really imperative personally to try to follow these simple rules for getting from one race to the next: Rest, Hydration, Nutrition, Balance and REPEAT. As we all know, this is easier said than done with life throwing constant curve balls your way yet there is no shortcut to getting your body back to race shape. However, there are indeed aids to recovery like Recovery Pump that are integral staples in helping to toe the line again and again.
Let’s dig deeper into traveling and racing a full Ironman race and then my personal four pockets of recovery. Having raced Ironman New Zealand five times, we have a solid routine down to hopefully getting to the start line in good shape and a in a positive frame of mind. As I get older, I hopefully get wiser and my 37 year old body has definitely accumulated many miles through the years. I am starting to realize that less is often more, especially coming into race week – you aren’t going to get faster per say BUT you can derail your race if you panic train. I still remember Ironman World Champion, Craig Alexander, stating when he was forty that although it took him awhile, he learned to race smarter, at his age, and not harder. SO TRUE.
Leading into the race, it is key for me to keep the engine going with relaxing swims at Taupo baths and shorter (with a sprinkle of intervals) rides around the New Zealand countryside to make sure the bike is dialed in completely. We were on our new Ventum bike this race so I was excited to experience all that it has to offer. Afternoons and nights are spent off the feet as much as we can and in the Recovery Pump boots watching some shows with my husband to relax the mind. We eat at our favorite places like Taupo Thai and pay close attention to maintaining proper hydration levels – the use of pee sticks to test hydration levels is necessary to make sure you are on point with your drinking.
After the race, feel free to indulge in that post event lush meal because your body is of course craving salt and maybe some grease/fat! We had our usual burger at Burger Fuel and fries to curb these hunger pains and desires! At this point, the four pockets of recovery begin to kick in as you learn from the mistakes and accomplishments of the day and the eye moves forward to the next big race. A sleeping aid such as melatonin usually helps to sleep because your body is still amped up on adrenaline and stretching its limits – it is confused as to what just happened! I try to use the Recovery Pump boots every day after a race to keep inflammation down and aid in keeping the blood flowing to stressed muscles. I do not fret about getting too much sleep; this is a necessity so naps (also with Recovery Pump boots on!) are imperative as well as regularly scheduled rest.
As the Rest pocket is taken care of, I also focus intently on getting proper hydration and nutrition. The body is craving nutrients to help repair itself and liquids are the best way to absorb these necessary vitamins and minerals. Delaying this process will prolong your recovery to get up and training again. As I stated before, there is no substitute for these paramount pockets of recovery and it’s not complicated or time consuming to make these things happen in your routine. Take care of the body and it will be resilient and get back on track.
The last and most important pocket of recovery is Balance. I have seen far too often where athletes get so one track minded with their training and racing that they forget about what is important in life. You can enjoy your hobbies and passions yet you also have to enjoy your life with friends and family; relationships. New Zealand is our 2nd home; we love the people, scenery, food, culture and relaxing in this special place is a treat. We always try to schedule time after the race to have quality time with our friends in Taupo, experience the outdoors, and take a load off from the ‘real world’ – this is the balance we all need in this hectic world to recharge the batteries.
We then head to one of our favorite lodges, the Poronui Lodge, 45 minutes outside of Taupo, http://www.poronui.com/ - @PoronuiLodge - This is just my husband and I enjoying our time with the friendly staff, who have become friends, and the other like minded guests wanting to get away. A typical day is getting up whenever for a wonderful breakfast, enjoying coffee in my Recovery Boots on our deck overlooking the property while my husband goes fly fishing, getting the blood moving by walking to the stables and playing pool, reading, etc…This is the perfect antidote to the fast pace, high technology world we all live in. After Poronui we go to Napier for a few days in New Zealand wine country.
I know that life gets in the way and there might not always be time after a race for a mini vacation yet even relaxing on your couch watching TV with loved ones can be a magnificent cure for the post race blues. Reset those competitive juices, recover to the fullest, and be ready to tackle the next round of athletic challenges! Nothing beats focusing on your rest, hydration, and nutrition as you decompress from a tough race. Hopefully you can catch up on those relationships that mean so much before heading off on the continuation of your triathlon journey!
- Meredith B Kessler, Ironman Champion