Good morning everyone
So we have 2 athletes competing in Cairns Ironman – Tony O’Neil & Steve Stringer. We wish you guys all the best as you tackle IM for the first time . . . the taper is near . . .
PRE CAIRNS IM FUNCTION
Both Tony & Steve are busy in the lead up to their maiden IM race, so we haven’t been able to arrange a pre IM function. I had thought this would also be a great opportunity for a post race catch up for our Port Mac peeps…however as some of you are going to “Beers & Beef” tomorrow night at the Seaview Hotel, let’s make that an opportunity
POST IM BLUES
We train so hard & for so long to get to the start line, and to ensure we are in the best shape to get to the finish line . . . (almost) everything else in our life stops in the lead up to Ironman . . . then, all of a sudden, we’ve got no training plan, we’ve got no early morning sessions to pack our bags for, we train when we want/if we want . . . it is a very weird feeling. “Post IM Blues” is actually a recognised condition (well, at least in the triathlon world it is recognised!) . . . so how do you deal with it? Here’s an article I found from Ryan Schneider that you might find helpful
What’s the first thing most people do when they cross the finish line of their first 70.3 or full IRONMAN?
I’ve noticed that most finishers—including myself—stop their computer watch to immortalize their finish time. It’s the last triumphant act at the end of a long, tough day. The race is finally over.
Or is it? The moment that button is pushed, it’s actually starting a new race altogether. A race arguably even harder than all the miles just traveled.
It’s the race to mental recovery, where swim, bike and run are replaced with joy, pain and angst. If you’re preparing for your first IRONMAN, I know what you’re thinking: “Are you kidding me!? I’ve got enough to worry about just finishing and now you’re telling me the toughest part comes after the race?”
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Follow these tips and you’ll be refreshed and ready for your next big accomplishment faster than you can say “post-race blues.”
Joy: Revel in the Moment
Whether you’ve just completed your first triathlon ever or are training for your second IRONMAN of the season, taking a moment to raise your arms triumphantly is the first step to performing better in the future. How can you make progress if you don’t acknowledge where you just came from?
My post-race celebration ritual includes wearing my transition area wristband for a full week after my race—or until I feel like cutting it off. That lets me know it’s time to begin moving on from the joy of the accomplishment.
“Treat each race as a celebration of all of the hard work you have put into preparing yourself to be the best athlete you can be,” IRONMAN 70.3 St. George champion Meredith Kessler advises age groupers. “Some workouts are good, some are ‘why even bother,’ but the journey is what you’re aiming for every day.”
Pain: Rest Mindfully
Healing from an IRONMAN flat-out hurts. There’s no way around the pain, but you can trigger a faster mental recovery by formulating a sturdy post-race physical rest regimen. It’s okay to party, but overloading your body with sugar and fat while depriving it of rest can trigger a physical crash that makes mental recovery that much harder.
As part of her race recovery process, Kessler starts eating right the day after the race and focuses on quality sleep. She also swims early in her recovery to flush out the kinks and immerses herself into her regular training routine three days after finishing.
Multiple long-course champ Jesse Thomas told me he starts his recovery with a few beers and junk food (see “Revel in the Moment”) and takes the next day off completely following his race. For those new to the sport, Thomas advises waiting one additional day after feeling ready to train before easing back into a routine.
I’ve experienced this for myself recovering from my first two IRONMAN races in two different ways. I took approximately three straight weeks off from any kind of physical activity after my first one, and noticed the mental doldrums were far worse. I recovered mentally much faster from my second. The difference? I resumed my physical routine within days, not weeks. My sleep patterns remained the same following both events—that is, I slept nine to 10 hours a night for at least the first week.
Angst: “Now What?” to “What’s Next?!”
You’ve celebrated, you’ve rested and yet something just feels … off. You’ve spent the last several months training dutifully and living a regimented lifestyle in anticipation of a giant life moment. Suddenly it’s over. You have lots of free time, which can quickly morph into something I’ve lovingly referred to as the off-season training blues.
How to escape this malaise? The first step is realizing you can’t rush it. Thomas uses a metaphor of a sponge needing to be filled with water before getting squeezed out again as a way to describe how important it is to take a break from the rigors of training.
For me, maintaining a blog and writing detailed race reports helps me relive the moment, analyze what worked and didn’t (both in the race itself and recovery-wise) and plan for the future. The planning part is critical, as it will help you transition emotionally from melancholy and non-productive nostalgia to what’s around the corner.
As much as I’ve tried, I’ve found it impossible to capture the magic of that first IRONMAN or 70.3. The journey of the unknown is always fraught with more drama, which heightens the feeling of achievement. But if you take a long-term view of racing and recovery, like Kessler you’ll see that triathlon is a journey, where races are milestones that require moments of celebration, reflection and analysis.
In other words, there is no “stop” on your metaphorical watch. Only “pause.”
Once again, good luck to Tony & Steve in Cairns, and also to the 6 or so doing 70.3, a couple for the first time at that distance
Regards . . . Jules (on behalf of the Coaching team)
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