The Beauty of Recovery Week

Ah, recovery week. There is no more enjoyable seven days for an Iron Man in training than this week. It comes around once every four to five weeks and so it is something you learn to savor and enjoy acutely, as if greedily dragging a homemade biscuit through the last, precious, mouth-watering morsels of your Grandmother’s otherworldly fried chicken gravy – you delight in it and celebrate it and mark your calendar by it.  Our typical training week goes something like this:

Monday: 1 to 1.5 mile pool swim/drills

Tuesday: 30 mile group bike ride, 2.5 mile recovery run

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: 8 to 11 mile run (mileage builds each week from 8 up to 11)

Friday: 40 minute to 1 hour open water swim

Saturday: Group ride/time trials – 50 to 70 miles, 2.5 mile recovery run

Sunday: 7 mile run, 15 mile recovery ride

Weekly totals: Swim: 2.4 miles, Bike: 95 miles, Run: 20-23 miles

All throughout the training year, workouts and mileage vary, but this gives a pretty good idea of how the past couple of months have gone. Thus, the beauty of recovery week.

A typical recovery week consists of two, and possibly three days off, and minimal swimming, biking and running – just to maintain the hard-earned fitness gains of the preceding weeks. We might even splurge and get a massage (not the relaxing kind of massage with perfumy oils and rainforest soundtrack, mind you, but the kind of deep tissue therapy that leaves you sweating profusely and fighting the urge to scream profanities. More on that later). But the absolute best part of recovery week is Saturday. After a slow, almost leisurely, week of training, the Saturday group ride to Fearrington Village has become the most anticipated and beloved tradition in our still-young triathlon club. We’ll start in Apex and spin 20 miles at a relaxing pace out past Jordan Lake, up the much celebrated Col de Lystra and out to Fearrington Village, where we take our time, sun on our faces, drinking good coffee, munching raisin scones slathered with butter and honey, talking cycling and upcoming races, commiserating over various aches and pains, and generally enjoying the fellowship of our group. It is the highlight of our month, I think everyone would agree. After a solid 45 minutes or so, and only with great hesitation, we make our way back to the bikes and pedal the 20 miles or so back to Apex. And then we drive home, sans recovery run. It is the most agreeable way to spend a Saturday I know of – at least within the context of Iron Man training.

Long live recovery week!

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