Post-race slump?

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.

premig
PR!

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.

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9 thoughts on “Post-race slump?

  1. THANK YOU so much for this post! I only did a half ironman 2 weeks ago, and I’m feeling the slump. 😦 I signed up for the Dopey Challenge so I would continue to run and train and enjoy running in the fall/cooler temps (which I love). However, I got up this morning for an 11 mile long run (easy pace) and I wasn’t feeling it at all. I went to a concert last night to celebrate not having to train like a crazy person, and I guess it was just too much for my body to handle 11 miles on 6 hours of sleep. Oh well. I still have another long run this weekend, so I’m praying for mo-jo on Sunday morning. Nonetheless, THANK YOU for helping me realize maybe it’s “normal” to not have the same motivation right after a race. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t hit the slump yet, but it really is weird not having a big, scary goal to target. There are some fun, short races I hope to do in the next few months, but I have no goal in mind for those. I’m trying to come up with a good “what’s next” for the next year.

    I can’t even imagine going from all that crazy ironman training to post-race!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor

    THIS.IS.ME.O.M.G.!!!

    So yeah, I get it. I’m not in your head so I can’t speak for what is causing your lack of motivation. I don’t even know what’s causing my own lack of motivation (well, I actually do, I think, but that’s a subject for a blog post of my own).

    While you may be excited about new goals, it’s worth considering that you may just not have the same passion for them that you had for your Ironman. I was excited at the possibility of training for shorter distances after my marathon, but I’m finding I just don’t have that love that motivates me to get out the door and do the work every day. And THAT’S OKAY. We don’t have to be in love with every single thing we try. We don’t have to be good at everything. And most importantly, despite what the social media BS will have you believe, it is perfectly normal to not be super stoked/pumped/motivated for every.single.workout or even every race (I mean, jesus people, really??). You’re a human being, not Triathlon Barbie.

    So whatever is causing your slump I say, cut some yourself some slack. Accept that for the *temporary* time being, things just aren’t as fun. At the very least you can enjoy having a few months to not have to care so much about training and fitness. Nothing lasts forever – you’ll get the passion back eventually!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol at Triathlon Barbie!

      Yeah, you are definitely right about cutting myself some slack. I really do think that the shorter distances are going to be good for me (and exciting for me!). I think it’s just too soon for me to be completely gung-ho about another athletic endeavor, and I need to respect that or else I’ll actually burn out. It’s just so weird because usually, motivation and self-discipline are my jam, especially around exercise. It sounds silly, but this is something that I’ve never dealt with before. Even when I didn’t like exercise as much as I do right now, it wasn’t this hard to get out the door!

      Since I started writing this post, though, I have been actively reminding myself that training is not my top priority right now and that choosing other things over training is not just okay but also good. (Really, training *was* my top priority before the Ironman, as it needed to be.) It’s a different mindset, for sure… I think it will take some getting used to!

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  4. Lady – you just completed an Ironman. You should totally feel free bask in the glory of that accomplishment for a long long time. You were so disciplined and focused for what 6+ months? I think taking a couple of months to do some fun-whatever you feel like workouts and that motivation will creep back up on you!

    Liked by 1 person

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