Rest and recovery during Ironman training are just as important as the training itself, but you can’t afford to be taking a lot of days off – that’s why you need active recovery.
Throughout the four months in which I beefed up my training to get ready for Ironman Maryland, I think I only took five or six days off. One of the things I learned from training for my full distance the year before is I couldn’t go balls to the wall all week and expect to be fresh come race time. I just didn’t have the legs to carry me to the finish line. I had to devise a new strategy this year.
The basics of how my active recovery worked was I would put in four hard weeks of 16-19 hour training followed by a week of lighter training, then repeat. The light week of training usually averaged around 11 hours of total time and I made sure it was nothing too strenuous. My long ride was only 50 miles long and I did the course in reverse to purposely force myself to go slower than I usually would.
The following week I noticed my legs were feeling really good and I knew this was a better strategy. The active recovery method allows you to still keep training and getting all the miles you need, while simultaneously getting your legs back. You can keep a rest day in your back pocket to use almost like a get out of jail free card if you absolutely need it.