My (re)introduction to endurance sports 3 years ago was with running. I started with one painful mile and just over a year later I ran a marathon. As my mileages went up I found that my recovery times needed to go up as well. Sometimes it would take me 2 or 3 days to recover from a long run (long being anything over an hour). I expected this would get better as I got in better shape and lost weight, but it really never did.
When I started running again after recovering from my stress fracture, I reveled in short mileages and enjoyed just being in motion again. After talking with my doctor and having him suggest triathlons, one of my first thoughts was of the pain of long distances again, tripled, no doubt, by doing three sports worth of training at the same time.
But one of the things that has amazed me about doing sprint to olympic distance training for triathlons is that my recovery times are miraculously short. Even when I do a long bike/run brick, it’s like I didn’t even work out when I get up the next day. Compare this to a 13-15 mile run that took several days to get over and it really is amazing how little recovery time I need.
Case in point. Yesterday I did a challenging short course triathlon. Tough hills, and lots of them. On the bike and the run. Yet this morning I woke up and felt… fine. No stiffness. Not sore. Nothing.
So good, in fact, that I decided to go out and do the open water swim at Finger Lakes. Back to back swims? Really? Me?
When I got to the lake, the weather was awesome. About 85 degrees but with a nice breeze. The water was 78-80. A little cool but not “wetsuit legal” for triathlons so I figured I had better get used to long swims without wetsuits as well. So I chose to forego the wetsuit and just swim. A half mile swim without a wetsuit? Really? Me?
I am obviously much slower without a wetsuit (about the speed of driftwood), but I felt good the entire swim. No panic or even concern. It was a nice swim. So nice, in fact, that when I got back in I decided to go for a run. The park is pretty and the speed limit (strictly enforced) is 20mph so I didn’t have to worry about cars much. I ran an easy 3 miles at about an 8 minute pace and felt awesome when I was done.
It just shouldn’t be like this the day after a hard race. I should be miserable. Tired. Fatigued. Sore… Right? That’s how it was when I was training for marathons. This race was an hour and thirty six minutes. That’s a long time to be working hard. Why am I not exhausted?
I think it’s a combination of a couple of things. First, I’m in better shape and I’m lighter. Second, even though I went hard for over an hour and a half, I was only working one group of muscles for a maximum of an hour (bike), so the time was split and the different muscle groups got a break. I’m sure if I had done the olympic distance I would be more tired, but I’m not complaining.
As much as I would like to do longer distance triathlons in the future, I’m really not sure I will. This feels too good! Why would I want to go back to all that pain?
Editors note: Because I’m stupid always looking to challenge myself and have no common sense love endurance sports