As much as I loved Ironman training, I was ready to be done. I didn’t have a post-race depression. I didn’t wonder what to do with all my new-found free time (TV, anyone?). And for the first weeks after the Ironman, I didn’t even have trouble motivating myself to exercise. I had spent so much time doing Ironman stuff that I was actually excited to do some hard shorter workouts. Masters swimming three times a week? Heck yeah! Track workout? Heck yeah! A “long” bike ride on the weekend? Heck yeah!
My mind felt so great the first couple weeks that I dared to hope I had escaped a post-race slump altogether. But I’ve noticed a trend as I’ve been writing my race reports the last few weeks.
“I didn’t really want to get up for this workout, but I was glad once I did.”
“I told myself I could take it easy as long as I got out there.”
“I had to bargain with myself to get out the door and decided to do a longer run instead of intervals.”
“The workout was fine, but I just wasn’t feeling it.”
It’s not hard to see the pattern.
I’ve had some great highlights in the weeks since my Ironman. I did really well in my first swim meet. I won a 5k (and, more importantly, I think I hit the paces I wanted to hit). I powered through to a PR up Emigration Canyon.
But I’ve also been seriously struggling with motivation. Some days, it’s harder for me to wake up for a five mile run than it was to wake up for a ten mile run during Ironman training. There have been plenty of mornings where I almost turn my alarm off and sleep through swimming. There’s nothing wrong with taking it easy, but I’m torn. It’d be easy to know what to do if I were constantly sick of exercising—cut back. But the thing is, when I’m not struggling with motivation, I’m very excited about future goals and new athletic pursuits. And I know that winter is coming. I want to take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and fall colors before this whole place turns gray for three months.
I’m of two minds. And I’m having a hard time reconciling these conflicting feelings.
After giving it some thought, I suspect that part of the problem is my post-Ironman habits. During Ironman training, I was always very careful to get plenty of sleep. I’ve (understandably) been a little more lax on that front since the race. But I’m a person that needs sleep. If I mix get a fairly even mix of 7 hour and 8 hour nights, I’m pretty much where I need to be. However, recently, I’ve been having way more 7 hour nights than usual, with a few 6 hour nights thrown in here and there. And that’s bound to mess with my motivation and make it harder to get up in the morning. Additionally, I’ve been kind of lazy when it comes to fueling as well. I’ve been skipping breakfast here and there and choosing to snack instead of actually sit down for a real dinner.
I don’t want to miss out on fall running and fall cycling because I’m suffering from the side effects of not getting enough sleep. So I’m going to try to focus on getting my sleep and on fueling properly and see if that helps my motivation and general well-being.
And for now, I’m going to keep at it, while offering myself plenty of opportunities to reschedule, rethink, and play things by ear.
That means that so far, in this week alone, I postponed a tempo run from Monday evening to Tuesday morning when I remembered that I had something important to do on Monday evening. I also moved my planned Tuesday evening bike ride to Wednesday evening after I got to Rob’s house, saw that he wasn’t feeling well, and decided it was more important to be a decent partner and make him dinner than it was to go for a bike ride.
And that’s good. There’s not much room for flexibility during Ironman training. But there is now, and a part of finding a schedule that’s maintainable in the long term is embracing that extra wiggle room.