Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Post Race Blues - They've Got Me!!

Yep, it's happened.

I gots da........Post.Race.Blues.

"That race was so tough - I deserve some time off - somebody wake me up next season!"

I've experienced the post race blues before, but this time around it completely took me by surprise. With Boise happening so early in the season, I fully expected to hop right back on that training horse and make the most out of the next four months. Heck, I still have at least 3 more tris (key being not yet registered for) and a half marathon to tackle this summer! Nope. After taking a week off to recover from my "A" race, the motivation started to lag and I've been finding myself struggling just to get on the bike at least once a week.

32 days since my 70.3 and I have done the following:

Swim - 2 days
Bike - 4 days (3 on trainer + 1 outside) and 95 miles
Run - 4 days and 13 miles total.

Ugh. Lame. So in an effort to pick myself out of this funk, I've done a little research on the very real dilemma of 'post race blues' and exactly why this happens. I also signed up from some Ironman volunteering which is bound to get those motivation gears a pumpin'. (more on that later....)

So what exactly is Post Race Blues or Depression?

Post race blues/depression refers to a very real condition in which feelings of boredom and worry combine with physical fatigue and muscle soreness. As these negative feelings and worry combine, an overall feeling of depression sets in.

What are some of the causes?

1. Physically your body becomes used to a high supply of endorphins. When released during training these endorphins are natural mood elevators and cause feelings of euphoria. (I'm a bad-ass, unstoppable!)When training for triathlon your body is constantly flooded with these awesome things. After your race, the supply of endorphins decreases drastically which contributes to those feelings of blah.

2. Emotionally - While training for a triathlon, the mind and body are constantly focused on a united goal. After months (5 months to be exact) of anticipation for the event, you can often feel let down once that big race is over. Your days suddenly feel empty and you are unmotivated to find anything else to do. (queue drinking beer and staying parked on the couch).

This article on says it best:

'Athletes are not unique in this post event letdown. The feelings are reported by politicians after a major election-win or lose; by students after earning a hard-won degree; by mountain climbers after climbing the highest peak. Although the experience seems to contradict common sense, it is common among achievement oriented people.
We have been taught that the attainment of the goal is the reward. Now the goal is attained and you are puzzled by your unanticipated unhappiness. The goal has turned out to be an illusion. The joy was in the dream and the process of moving towards your goal, in mobilizing your physical and mental potentials to their fullest. Once the goal was accomplished, the dream died. The joy ended. And now it's time to regroup and start over again.
Be Prepared
Some of the disappointment of the post-event letdown can be alleviated by knowing that it's normal and to expect it. For months, your life has been organized around this singular goal. Now, suddenly it's over and the disciplined, intensive efforts are no longer required.'

What are some solutions?

The textbook answer is rest and  relaxation while keeping your mind occupied with other activities. And then when the time comes set yourself a new goal. Though I agree with needing a little R&R the suggestion according to of allowing yourself one "easy day" for every miles you completed in the event just seems ludicrous. I can't possibly take 70 easy days! Rest and relaxation are imperative after a longer distance event, but the key is to keep active during this time. Rest does not equal sitting on your rump and not doing a thing for 4 weeks.

That being said I took a peak into the minds of the endurance community to see what they have personally experienced and works for them. And wouldn't you know it? Time after time the "treatment" is simply to sign up for another race! And from the perspective of goal setting this makes sense. A new race creates a new goal upon which we can set our sights, pin our happiness and focus our determination. While some studies may suggest that this is pathological and problematic, it sounds pretty normal  and highly effective for most of the endurance athletes I know. We need new goals, new limits to push.

And with that I have pushed forward with registering for a few more events that will hopefully pull me out of this funk! I've also decide that yes, my personality needs goals...constantly and physically. And with knowing that tri season is only about 5 months out of the year in the PNW, I need to look at setting other goals not related to racing - rather something specific from improving on a certain muscle group to nutrition etc. (which will all benefit my racing agenda in the long run anyway)

Going forward, each month I will focus on a specific goal, put it out here for you all to see and include a status of where I am at with achieving that goal in my weekly training recaps (which my lazy bum will be definitely be starting up again next week  - something uber motivational about having everyone see the work you're doing ). Who knows, maybe there are some of you out there who are lacking the same motivation at the moment and would like to tackle these challenges with me? - thinking about something leg focused for next month. Stay tuned...............

This month however, will be kept to just getting back into routine and prepping for the Girlfriends and Dudes Tri that I'm doing with the Kid in two weeks. Though it's only a sprint, I'd really like to try and PR considering I feel so much stronger than this time last year.

So please bear with me as I work through this valley.....another peak is just around the corner!

Cheers - Bec

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