Emily Asks: After finishing your A race of the season (the 70.3 for me!),
is it common to feel a little directionless a few weeks post race? And how much recovery time should you allow yourself after a big race to recharge both mentally and physically?
The answer to the first question is - YES! It is very common to feel a bit "lost" after finishing your A race for the season. Marathoners call it the post marathon blues, and Time Magazine even has an article on it. And it's not unique to sports. Musicians and actors can get it after their final performance of the year, or anyone after a highly anticipated event is over.
The concept is this: You've set up your life around one goal. Your daily routine had structured because you had that goal in sight. The anticipation for the big event helped to keep you focus. Once the event (in Emily's case the half-ironman) is finished, all that structure goes away. What do you do now? All that routine is out the window so you are left feeling a bit empty. The cure for this is often to sign up for another event! But if you don't have another event in mind here are a few tips to get over those blues.
- Take advantage of the additional free time and get some extra rest. Your body no doubt needs it.
- Maintain your good eating habits. The post-race treat and a few meals here and there that you didn't have because you were "in training" are fine, but go back to healthy eating as soon as possible. You'll feel better that way and it will set you up well for your next goal.
- Take care of social obligations that you may have neglected while you were out training (spend time with your family and friends!)
- Keep a light training schedule, but have a schedule. You don't need intense workouts, but if once a week you join a group run or maybe a spin class, keep that structure.
- Do local races or events for fun. It'll put something on your calendar you can focus on without the stress of a major race.
And in regards to the second question - how long should you take to recharge mentally and physically - the answer can depend, but after a half-ironman A race, take at least a week or two off from any structured training. You likely got into triathlon because you enjoy to swim, bike, and run, so relax, recover, and then do some swimming, biking and running just for fun. If you do that and keep in mind the steps above, your body and mind will let you know when you are ready for more structure and you will sign up for your next race!
So for all of you out there finishing your season, congratulations, enjoy your recovery and off-season, and have fun!