Post-Ironman, it’s back to reality and time for some relaxation

‘Now that I’m home, it seems strange not to have what is really like another job’

Aileen Flynn during the Ironman World Championship race in Kona, Hawaii.

Aileen Flynn during the Ironman World Championship race in Kona, Hawaii.

 

Aileen Flynn competed in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii last month – writing a diary for The Irish Times along the way.

Now that the dust has settled on my last big race of the year, I’m enjoying some down time. I’ve reflected on my race and I’m satisfied with the outcome.

I feel I probably had more to give on the bike and run, but then if you do give it all and burn out, the whole day can finish up as a slow march home along the highway and I know how that feels!

I was seriously impressed by the quality of the field and I finished a whole hour behind the winner of my age group. I certainly feel I could improve my race time by a further 30 minutes, but an hour seems to be a huge undertaking.

Now that I’m home and back into a normal routine in work, it seems strange not to have what is really like another job to do, before and after the day job. I find it hard to completely rest so I have returned to some unstructured swimming – but, two weeks post-race, I have yet to cycle or run. I don’t expect to run for a while yet as I seemed to develop a tendonitis in my foot after the race. I was convinced I had a stress fracture as weight bearing was really painful, so much so that I required assistance in the airport en route home. This means some self-imposed rest which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I kept my foot in a boot for over a week which has really helped as rest is key in managing an acute injury. I know this from experience of treating athletes myself and the necessary patience required to rest an injured area until it is pain free. I plan to get some cyclocross biking in over the coming months and hopefully return to running in two more weeks, all things going well.

Personal best

I’m certainly motivated to do another Ironman and I plan to race in Austria Ironman next July. There are about 20 of my clubmates from Piranha tri club who are racing there too so it will be fun to be involved in the build-up to the race together. I would hope to do a personal best there as the course seems to be faster than any previous races that I have raced. I watched the Dublin Marathon last weekend and have been motivated since to race it next October and see if I can run a fast marathon. It seems to be a very well-supported race and I certainly enjoyed cheering people on.

It’s highly important to recover properly after a big race, and rest and eating well play a big role here. The aftermath can also be quite anti-climactic so having activities planned post-race is recommended. I find that catching up with friends and family is first on the list as it is difficult to manage to be social when working and training for an Ironman. When returning to training, it’s important to start off gradually and rebuild. For example, if I end up taking four weeks rest from running, I will be going out for a 20-30minutes jog the first day and build gradually from there. I also think that this time of the year is good for me to rebuild Pilates form and explore suitable strength and conditioning programmes.

Structured training plan

Realistically, I will plan to return to a structured training plan in January. Let’s hope for a good winter for some nice bike rides in the Wicklow hills and some trail running too. Ireland is a great country for exploring the outdoors and living in south Dublin means I am never too far from the sea or the mountains. I’m overjoyed to have discovered and take-part in triathlon, a sport of endurance and discipline, and it has enriched my life to no end. Thanks to everyone who has followed my progress in the build up to and during my Ironman World Championship race in Kona.

Until my next adventure . . .

Aileen Flynn is a clinical specialist physiotherapist in musculoskeletal care at Beacon Hospital

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