It’s weird. People have warned me about this, and I’ve read others blog about it. Somehow it still took me by surprise. I’m not really sure if I have the post-Ironman blues, but whatever this is sure feels uncomfortable.
A few days after the big race, I had a call with Coach P to go over my data and talk about my day. I really, really looked forward to it because as strange as it sounds I felt like he was the only person who would really understand what I went through that day. As I explained my highs and how I friggin’ nailed the bike hydration and nutrition and pacing, to the lows of the run and everything in between, I knew he truly got it.
Which made it that much more of an emotional roller coaster when by the end of the hour, we had moved on to the subject of my “off season” and how we would pause official training until next year. I had no solid plans after IMAZ, and thinking about it was the last thing I wanted. For the first few days I felt strangely incomplete. The radio silence from Training Peaks was unsettling, and it felt weird not having Coach looking over my shoulder. I could do anything I wanted now! And for a while, that meant absolutely nothing at all. For the first 2 weeks after the race, time that used to be spent in the pool or gym was spent at work or with friends. I was still having dinner as late as before, except now I had time to make it myself and I get to have BEER with it! The sewing machine I got for my birthday (in OCTOBER) finally got unpackaged and I had time to make kitty a catnip pillow from my test fabric.
We cleaned the apartment and finally got rid of all the moving boxes in our living room (we moved in almost 2 years ago). I loved it and at the same time it all felt so foreign to me. One night I texted Coach and told him re-assimilating to normal life was hard. He told me I’d get used to it, which meant I was on my own this time.
I’d been living in my ironman training bubble for so long, and now the reverse culture shock was leaving me stunned and lost and feeling kinda guilty. I cried a few times that first week. I didn’t want to be normal. As tough as ironman training was, it made me feel strong. Invincible. Now, I just feel undisciplined and deflated.
And really, it was the guilt that brought me back to the pool recently. I showed up to masters mostly so I could see my swim coach and tell him I survived, and thank him in person. I didn’t plan on actually completing the whole workout but once I got in the water, it felt so good to be doing something again. A few days later, I hopped back on a spin bike and did my own solo workout (I tried going to a regular spin class but work got in the way so I picked out the easiest workout from Coach P and did that instead). Miraculously my legs still worked, my knees didn’t cry and the next morning I woke up to that familiar tired, achey feeling in my body. It was like order had somehow been restored.
But then my mind intervened and slammed on the brakes. Mentally I was not ready to commit to a regular training schedule, even a very loose one. I had been so good about being consistent with my workouts all year long that finally I had used up my discipline quota. And just as I reassured myself that it’s ok to relax and not give myself any pressure about doing anything at all, I’d remember coach’s words.
“You worked so hard all year, don’t throw all that fitness away.”
Not that I have much left. I’ve felt extremely sluggish after the race and getting my heart rate up to zone 4 on a stationary bike has never been easier. So this is where I am right now, caught in the middle of this tug-of-war, alternating between guilt and despair and laziness.
Surely I deserve a break.
Yes, I definitely need to sloth it out for a while and let my mind reboot.
But my hard earned muscles will atrophy!!
My ability to bike 80+ miles on a whim will vanish!!
I really should start training again. Let me figure out my races for 2015.
Oooh but I don’t want to traiiiin. The thought of it is like choking down a dozen hard boiled eggs. 5am alarms? No thanks. Ever again.
Anyhow, I clearly need some time to sort myself out but I have a feeling this is normal after something so labor/time/effort/life intensive. M2 once told us how important it was to just be patient and let your mojo come back to you after something as traumatic as an ironman. Ok, maybe he didn’t say traumatic. But still. That is what I will try to do for the next few weeks.
- Await mojo’s return.
- Sneak in a few swims or spins if it strikes my fancy
Sorry running, you and I are just not meant to be. Maybe we can try and work it out next year, but for now I’m breaking up with you.
Don’t worry kids, I will come back strong in 2015. I already have a few solid plans and some ideas about what I want to do next year, but for now….lots and lots of mental recovery.