Shoulder season

Here I sit, between one “A” race and an end-of-season Ironman that’s one of my favorites. I call it shoulder season.

Ironman Hawaii was just over 3 weeks ago, and Ironman Arizona is just under 2 weeks away. So, what goes on during these 5 weeks?

I have been fortunate to have some great performances at Ironman Arizona the past three years largely in part to my coach, Matt Dixon. The dude knows his stuff! Here are a few lessons he has taught me along the way:

1. Rest, rest, rest
The rest coming out of Ironman Hawaii is critical. I took 7 days completely off after the race not counting beach walks, snorkel dips and bicep beverage curls.
2. Build, build, build
The closer we get to Ironman Arizona, the more the work-load builds. Essentially, I will be building into race day.

3. Eat your veggies
I have focused a lot on getting in quality foods. Right after an IM your immune system is shot. It’s a great time to get in quality veggies and proteins.

4. Drink your beer
On the contrary to #3 - it’s important to allow a few sneaky treats. This time around has included pumpkin cookies & Moose Drool brown ale. You have to reward the hard effort from Kona. For 10 months of the year I feel I am pretty strict, I think this time of year it’s okay to indulge just a wee bit.

5. Listen to your body
Now is not the time to plough through sessions. I have slept through a few swims with little guilt. I also have also added onto a few bike rides when I am feeling great.

6. Switch off your computer
5-6 weeks between Ironman races is always tough because I never really feel amazing. Leading into Kona I was hitting nearly all my sessions, paces came easy and watts were predictable. Not anymore. I have been doing my runs off of feel and enjoying not looking at watts until after the bike ride. Sometimes I surprise myself with my performances, and other days it’s just a matter of ticking off the boxes.

7. Keep the engine open
The focus has been on quality efforts with a bit more recovery in an effort to keep the engine open. I know the fitness is there. Arizona is a flat and fast course, so my goal in the training sessions is to keep the speed up there.

8. Make a list
People often ask what is motivating me when nearly all-my friends are off-season-ing. I like to make a list of things I want to do in December to celebrate the end of the year. Knowing the end is in sight has been a great carrot the past few weeks.

9. Body work
I have replaced some of my longer sessions and added on (even more) massage, active stretching, rolling with my TP grid, squash ball time, recovery boots and doing proper warm-up/cool-down.

10. Family & Friends
My friends and family seem to always be “giving an inch” during the peak of my race season. Now is a good time to be a bit more lenient with bed times and spending time with those who help you out most. We are headed to South Carolina this weekend to celebrate Nana’s 90th birthday - I can’t imagine a more perfect way to taper for the main event!

If you have one more race left in you this year - keep the focus & motivation - not long now until race day where you will be rewarded for all your great work. We will see you in Arizona!

Signing off from chilly Montana,