With less than two months until Ironman Louisville, my workouts have really ramped up in intensity and frequency. I’m also now scattering in one or two long runs/rides once a month. If you’ve asked me how my training is going, I’ve no doubt told you that I’m going with a non-typical approach to Ironman training this year…it’s call HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). Most of my workouts are only around 45 minutes to an hour long. But they are intense. Once Ironman is over, I’ll dedicate a post or two to my training methods and give some details on what I did and why it worked (hopefully).
Since almost every workout leaves my muscles feeling fatigued and my body feeling drained, it’s important that I make sure I recover as much as possible between workouts. My training all takes place early in the morning. My alarm goes off at 4:30am or earlier six days a week and I’m either out the door to run, driving to the pool, or headed to the basement for some time on the bike trainer. Some days I combine two of the disciplines.
My recovery actually starts at the beginning of my workout. I always do an active warm-up to get the blood flowing. As soon as the workout is complete, I’m normally into a cold shower within 10 minutes. When I say cold, I mean literally as cold as the water can get. I turn on cold water only. The cold water does two things. First it helps to prevent muscle soreness and it also cools my core temperature down.
After the quick shower (I don’t stay in there any longer than necessary), I usually try and get some food in my body. Most days my breakfast consists of Greek Style Cultured Coconut Milk (yogurt), a piece of fruit and either some quinoa or oatmeal.
If I’ve had a really hard running workout, I might put on compression socks under my dress socks to stimulate blood flow and keep blood from pooling up in my lower legs while I sit at my desk during the day. If it’s the weekend, I’ll pull on my full-leg compression tights for a few hours (my wife and kids love to make fun of me when I’m wearing these).
I try to eat healthy, as I know that what I eat has a huge impact on how I recover. I also drink plenty of water. If I notice my urine is yellow, I’ll up the water intake. If it’s clear and I’m going more than once every two hours, I’ll reduce the amount I’m drinking.
A few nights a week I spend about 20-30 minutes with my foam roller. Working on my legs from top to bottom. Some nights this is followed by some icing if I’ve got a spot that is particularly sore or tight.
The one area that I know I’m lacking in is sleep. Optimal sleep is critical for the recovery process. I typically only get around 6-1/2 hours a night. In an ideal world it would be closer to 7-1/2 or 8…but I’ve decided to sacrifice sleep to keep the training schedule that I have. My body seems to have adapted.
I also drink a special blend of Chinese Herbs made just for me by Meridian Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine. They make the herbal tea and put it into mason jars so that I can drink a little bit every day. There are a total of 10 different herbs that make up my recipe. The highest concentration is Sheng Di Huang – which, when combined with some of the other herbs, promotes body fluid production and relieves thirst. Other herbs in the mix help to nourish blood, reduce soreness, aid with sleep, sooth tendons and strengthen bones and tendons. My coworkers like to refer to my herbs as “dirt water”. I admit, it doesn’t look appetizing…but it’s an acquired taste.
So being diligent about all of these things has helped me to feel fresh and ready to hammer my workouts each morning. Some days are easier than others, but the majority of the time, I have little to no soreness and plenty of energy to get in a high-quality training session.
In my next post, I’ll tell you all the methods/tests that I use to make sure that I’m recovered and not approaching overtraining or the dreaded adrenal fatigue…which would literally end my season!