Andy Potts’ Ironman Recovery Plan

How the fourth-place Ironman World Championship finisher recuperates after his toughest 140.6 miles of the year.

Photo: John David Becker

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How the fourth-place Ironman World Championship finisher recuperates after his toughest 140.6 miles of the year.

Before the race:

Cut your toenails 2–3 weeks prior
“I lose an average of about 1.625 toenails per Ironman,” Potts says. “Whenever a course undulates, there’s a tendency for your toenails to take a beating. I used to cut my toenails the day or two before, but that ended up making the ends of my toes have no protection, and giving me blisters on my toe bed. You want to allow your toenails time for growth and for protection.”

Anticipate swelling
“You have internal pressure happening because of the force you’re putting out,” he says. “So you get swelling in your hands and your feet, but you also get it in your head. Because of the activity level, you want to have an adjustable helmet or hat. I ran with a loose-fitting doo-rag. And for cycling shoes, I’ve gone up a European half size in Shimano cycling shoes, and have always run with my running shoes slightly bigger.”

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The day after:

Stay on top of hydration, electrolytes, protein

“I start the day off with rehydrating,” Potts says. “And I purposely eat more protein and salt my food heavily for electrolytes. I think those are good core staples.”

Swim with fins
“The best thing you can do is go for a swim with fins on because you force blood flow to your legs and the biggest muscles,” he says. “It’s really advantageous to not only get nutrients to the needy muscles and bones, but also to bring back any byproduct through the heart and allow it to buffer.”

Don’t stress about any post-race blues
“If you’re not too motivated after, remember that it’s a physical and chemical reaction within yourself—it’s not because you don’t care about life anymore or you’re apathetic about the sport,” Potts says. “You release so many endorphins and have so much adrenaline pumping that you need to get it out; there’s a lot of byproduct happening. You find that you’re usually normal two to three days later.”

RELATED: Andy Potts’ Rules Of Recovery

The week after:

Do the things that make you happy
“The things that make me happy in life are the same things that I was fighting for on race day,” Potts says. “When I wanted the race to be over, even though there were six hours left in the day, I said to myself, ‘There’s going to be time to play with the kids in the waves; you have to fight through this first.’ The same reasons I have to try hard and do my best, those are the things you have to do, and you have to follow through.”

Go for a walk
“I feel a little geriatric, but I do walks,” he says. “We’ll do hikes with the kids or I’ll do a moonlight stroll with the Mrs.”

Take a break from running
“Five days is a good window, eight days is a better window,” Potts says. “I did an Ironman at the end of June and I took one whole week off. My body really appreciated it.”

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