by Sergio Borges
Years have passed and athletes racing long distance events like Ironman have not yet learned about the most important aspect – Mental Demands and Recovery.
It’s very easy for athletes to understand the physical recovery but very few can understand the mental demands and recovery from an Ironman race.
After you race an Ironman, usually next day you feel heavy, legs are tired, joints are achy and that’s where most athletes focus on. But with a few days of proper regeneration training, good nutrition and optimal sleep, your “physical” recovery is usually taken care of (unless you got injured during the race) but one thing that it’s often overlooked is the mental recovery. Are you recovered mentally?
When you’re “racing” an Ironman trying to place on your age division or qualify for Hawaii, you are pushing yourself hard with a constant mental battle telling your body: “keep going, a bit faster, don’t slow down”. You are out there between 8 and 12 hours demanding from your brain to stay focussed, not to give up, to overcome physical stress like muscle fatigue and joint aches and that is by far way more debilitating than the physical stress.
If you’re planning on racing two or three Ironman events in a year, you have to take into consideration your mental strength. By that I mean the ability of going out there AGAIN and to push hard for another 8 to 12 hours of racing. You know your body can take it but can your mind?
I agree with my friend, professional athlete, Paul Amey when he says: “You have only so many FAST Ironman races in your life so don’t waste them!”. So be smart and plan your races well. If you have a chance to “save” yourself from another high demand mental stress, do it ! I can guarantee you will be racing Ironmans for many years this way !
Stay healthy and have fun !