It's no secret that training for an Ironman and racing an Ironman there's lots and lots of cool toys. I've written about my gear (bike, wetsuit, etc) already but haven't mentioned some of my other toys that keeps me going so here we go:
This is a group of stuff from TP MassageBall. It's a little pricey but consists of two rollers, a ball and this little foam block. I got this set up in Canada last year and had been eyeing it for a while. The large roller is for your IT band and quads (basically your thighs) and it gets in there deeper than a foam roller. The small roller is for that spot/tendon between your calf muscles and achilles. The smaller roller is also for your feet. The ball is for your feet for plantar fascia and can be used for your back or butt, but mostly for your feet.
I also use a foam roller. Megan is a friend of mine from IronTeam demonstrating a nice back stretch on the foam roller. You can do a lot with the foam roller for your back, shins, IT band, etc. People who do pilates use a foam roller a lot and lots of physical therapists or personal trainers have you exercise on a foam roller 1) to help out with balance, 2) it's a cheap massage tool. Because foam rollers are cheap, it's a definite must for Ironman training. Yoga places and I'm seeing them more in general sporting goods stores are places where you can get them.
I first tried out The Stick as we were doing a drive through of my first Ironman course in Canada. I was amazed at how good it felt using it for massaging out my shins, quads, and then also calves. It's great if someone else uses The Stick on you for your calves and hamstrings. The idea behind The Stick and also the TP Massage ball set of stuff is around trigger points and unblocking or stretching those out. I kinda call it "micro-stretching" because it's targeted to certain spots that are tight. They have multiple "sticks". I'd recommend the red (which I own) or the blue one (which is more flexible). If you're a runner, the Stick is a must have.
The reasons to have these tools are for faster recovery and injury prevention, plus they're actually kinda of fun to have as toys. In order, I got the foam roller first, then the Stick, and then the tp massage ball stuff — or cheap to expensive.