Ironman recovery is a bit of a bumpy road.I'm slowly getting to where I feel recovered, but at times I can tell that full recovery is a ways off.
Fortunately, I've been able to enjoy more weekend breakfasts with my wife in the weeks since IMTX than I had with her in the previous several months combined. In addition, I've had times where I've felt far more tired than normal, though I've also had times where I've felt completely outstanding. I know this is all normal as my body readjusts and completes recovery. Some days are good and some days remind me just how much more recovery time I need. In the midst of the good days I can tell I have made gains in overall fitness during my Ironman training and the less good days remind me that I am not quite ready to enjoy the fullness of those quite yet.
My workouts have all just started to pick up in intensity this past week. For the first time in many months, I did a short running speed session. My hope for this session was to run the 1 mile time trial in under 7 minutes. After setting a 5K PR last November while averaging around 8 minutes per mile, I was hoping that I could hold a fast pace for a sub-7 minute mile on this day. While I kept an occasional eye on my heart rate I avoided watching the time on my watch. My efforts for this workout were meant to be bound by maximum effort and not a specific goal time, and I didn't want to know what my time was during the workout in case it might alter my effort level during the workout.
This run came at the conclusion of heavy storms in the local area, storms which blew through quickly and knocked down many trees. However, these storms also helped me out a bit by lowering the temperature from the high evening temperatures that are normal this time of year. Throughout this workout I pushed consistently hard, while holding back just enough to be able to complete these laps at the hard effort.
As I came to the end of the workout I hit my watch lap timer to end the mile session and saw what would have otherwise seemed unbelievable--yet, I also knew it to be true. I had completed my 1 mile time trial session in 6:21.
As someone who couldn't run half as fast several years ago, the impact of this workout is a bit of a shock to me. Five years ago, I would have been hard pressed to run a sub-12 minute mile. Times have certainly changed for me in more ways than one. I have put together several years of slow but steady improvements from my now long-gone former very out of shape self. I also found that I took a solid step forward when I cleared the recovery of Ironman Texas 2011 because of the training program that led up to the race. It looks like I am seeing the signs of another solid step forward following Ironman Texas 2012.
I know my current recovery training will likely still have more ups and downs in the next week or two, but for now one thing is certain---this was indeed one of the good days!