So after all the anticipation, nerves, elation, fatigue, exhaustion, happiness and shock of completing your A race in a time you could only dream of there is, inevitably, an element of ‘post-race blues’ that start to sink in once things start to return to normal.
I’m not going to lie, this has been a pretty new feeling to me, I’m generally a pretty easy (ish) going and happy individual but it feels like I’ve been struggling to be either of those things over the past couple of weeks.
I think in addition to having a great race and smashing my goal, there have been huge changes that have happened over the past few months, this year has been pretty crazy… juggling a completely new job, moving house and Ironman training wasn’t hugely easy, but there we are!
I honestly haven’t experienced this feeling before, after both the last two I got back into a routine of training or at least doing some exercise after a week or so, and felt great for it. This time though not so much…
I’ve read that this feeling of ‘post Ironman blues’ is pretty common, and that it’s all part of the recovery process. I guess I hadn’t factored in how much of an impact Ironman training has on your mental state as well as the physical one.
What I think we as endurance athletes often fail to recognize is that the most enjoyable part of something can often be preparing for it. Training for an Ironman is all encompassing for months, it takes over every aspect of life from sleep schedule to the weekly food shop, social plans and holidays, so of course once it’s all over that’s bound to be hard.
While many people feel guilty about taking a break from training even between races, it would appear that doing just that is one of the best things you can do to help yourself. One of my friends gave me a good bit of advice, which was to be kind to yourself. Your body (and mind) goes through a hell of a lot during an Ironman, not to mention the 8 + months leading up to it. So there’s bound to be some kind of an impact, physically and mentally. So since Frankfurt I’ve swum a few times and been for two runs in the last two and a half weeks. Not bad compared to most people but bloody awful compared to ‘normal’ for me! Until now I’ve not really missed it that much either, which is probably what I’ve found even more wierd. The drive and motivation up and left, but little by little it’s showing signs of returning.
Simon has said since Copenhagen that he doesn’t want to do another IM, it’s pretty much been a definite no. After Switzerland it turned towards a ‘well, if you beat my time I’ll do one’… promising! But after I registered at Frankfurt I could see some minor cracks emerging in that ice cold facade and decided to chip away a little at those… we spoke about what would happen if I had a good race and met my goals and pulled off a sub 11:08 time and he started to show signs of wanting to do another one.
Anyone who knows us will know how laid back Simon is, and how I’m the total opposite, heart on my sleeve, get excited at the faintest idea of something and get fixated on it which then means my stubbornness results in me doing everything in my power to make that thing happen…
So two and a half weeks ago, when I crossed the finish line in 10:43, bettering Simon’s time by 25 minutes, I think we both realized that the Ironman journey isn’t over yet.
I had said for months before Frankfurt that it was going to be my last Ironman distance race for a couple of years and that I wanted to focus on other areas of my life, but in all honesty, triathlon and Ironman in particular has a special hold on me for now. I can’t get enough of it, the feeling of training for a race, the build up, the race itself and the finish line feeling is just something that I think I would find pretty hard to cope without. (For now at least…)
I spent a couple of hours earlier this week looking at Ironman races trying to decide which one I wanted to do next. Simon and I had discussed the option of Wales, one which I’ve never really fancied too much (too hilly!!) but have been to watch when my best mate Beth did it for her first Ironman a couple of years ago. Initially I thought it would be good to have a go at it, but in reality I know it’s not one I would enjoy, the chances of not finishing are pretty high (given my track record on hills!) and it’s not exactly PB potential!
As I turn 30 in January I’m considering making it a big year and go for 2 IM distance races next year… call me crazy but you only turn 30 once right?! Current contenders are Lakesman in June, a UK based iron distance race in the Lake District, and Ironman Barcelona in September so any tips or feedback on these two would be greatly appreciated 😊
I’ve still got a couple of races left this year, Woburn Abbey Half Iron distance race in September and Birmingham Marathon in October, so it’s time to get back into some sort of structure. Then I’ll have a bit of a break… promise! After discussing with Ellie, my training plan starts again on Monday, and I’m really looking forward to it. Seeing some sessions back in Training Peaks has already helped to lift my mood!
So although the last few weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster I feel like I’m very much back on the road to feeling like me again… and I have a funny feeling that getting back to some structured training next week will really help.
Watch this space…