You did it! You are an Ironman! Now what?
Everyone’s post Ironman experience is different. There is talk of pain, never again and food. For me there was limited pain, sign me up for another one of those things and food. And wine. There is talk of accomplishment and a sense of community with those you crossed the line with that day (or night). There was the desire to relive every moment of that day.
Should I jump back into training? What does my body need? What does my mind need? What do I do with all this new-found free time? Here’s how things have played out for me:
24 hours Post Race: I AM AN IRONMAN. I AM AN IRONMAN. Wait, did that really happen? Am I really an Ironman? I AM AN IRONMAN! I AM AN IRONMAN! I’m going to eat cake for breakfast and wear my finishers jacket and fall asleep in a hammock for a few hours in the afternoon only to wake up continue repeats of I AM AN IRONMAN! Stairs are problematic, but other than that I am shocked at how not-terrible I feel. Maybe I should do another Ironman soon? Next week? Google search!
48 Hours Post Race: I AM AN IRONMAN, but sadly the world does not revolve around Ironman and I have a day job. Time to pack up and head home, but I still have a goofy grin plastered across my face. It’s warm out, but I’ll wear my finishers jacket anyways. And my finishers hat and t-shirt, but not all at once of course, that would be overkill.
A few Days Following the Race: Eat all in sight. Celebrations continue. Champagne. Wine. More cake.
4 Days Post Race: Return to work. Feel like conquering hero with all of the congratulatory words. It is so fun to relive my day over and over again. I sport my fancy, new Ironman backpack. I return to the gym so that I can talk Ironman with my Ironman gym rat friends. I spend close to an hour foam rolling and stretching most days, but am still surprised at how not-terrible I feel. Yes, my muscles are sore, but I feel better than I did throughout training. My knee isn’t hurting for the first time in close to a year.
1 Week Post Race: Time to get that coveted m-dot tattoo. It hurts much more than I remember, but I am an Ironman! Nightly bottles of mini champagne help the celebration continue. I’m still having trouble grasping that I completed a lifelong dream.
2 Weeks Post Race: Some of the excitement starts to wear off, but there are still plenty of people who want to talk Ironman and congratulate me – the random woman at the grocery store, the random man at work who asks if I cheered at Ironman (NO, I RACED). I add some yoga back into my routine and that feels good.
3 Weeks Post Race: I am extremely tired (more so that the first week following the race), but I have been living life to the fullest so can’t complain. There have been late nights and nights with too much wine. There has been long overdue time with non triathlon friends and family. I have trouble dragging myself out of bed in the mornings. I continue foam rolling regularly and have added in a weekly pilates class and my first short run (during a tornado warning and monsoon no less). The run was stiff and slow, but I was amped to get out there. I am taking things slow and forcing nothing. This is my time to give my body a break. I am completely erring on the side of NOT doing anything.
4 Weeks Post Race: How am I still tired? I start to notice the impacts of unrestricted eating and drinking. I am happy with those choices because I know I will return to training ready to focus after some time off mentally and physically, but am also ready to return to a life with earlier bedtimes and healthier eating. I am always learning about finding the right balance between fun and discipline, and what works best for me and my body. I went on a five mile run and had fun. No heart rate monitor, no plan. It was challenging, but exhilarating. The fall colors and fresh air left my mind and legs happy.
One Month Post Epic Ironman Day: I feel my body and energy levels inching toward normal. I don’t feel depleted. I was able to function over the past month, but there was residual exhaustion. I am getting ready to return to more structure training plan, but with an emphasis on enjoyment for the time being. I am thankful for this journey.