Your event is done. Now what?!
It is something we have all experienced in one way or another. You have just completed a major goal, but what comes next? All that planning, work and dedication has seen you accomplish something you can be proud of, but where do you go from here?
Taking this on an athletic level, we need to dig into “why” we set out to accomplish that race/event in the first place. Was it to say that we did it? Was because you saw others do it and so wanted to try? Was it because you wanted to prove to yourself that you could do it?
On a fundamental level, was the motivation internal (i.e. you were doing it for yourself) or external (you were doing it to show others)? The answer to this question will determine, to a large extent, what your next steps are. If you are doing this for yourself, whether that is to prove to yourself that you can, or as a stepping stone on the pathway to better health and longevity, it will be much easier to motivate yourself to continue being active than if you did the event for external validation. What others think of us is fleeting and fickle, how we perceive ourselves is a much more powerful motivating factor.
For myself, I accomplished two huge goals this year. I won my age group again at IM UK, and in doing so secured a 2nd trip to the World Championships in Kona and gave a good account of myself there by beating my previous time by half an hour.
The process of training
Taken externally, it would be easy to now sit back. From a race outcome perspective, 2023 is going to be tough to beat! But at the end of the day what is important to me is the process of how I accomplished those feats. It was (and continues to be) the act of training day in and day out. Of fuelling my body correctly (most of the time anyway!) and taking care of the little things that are so important as well – sleep, connection to family and friends as that leaves me with an overall sense of wellbeing. Hopefully the time training has left you more in touch with your body – I find that when I eat poorly, it makes me feel blah. That’s a feeling I hate so even if I am not in race prep mode, just to feel good is enough motivation to eat (reasonably!) well and keep the treats in check.
After completing a major goal, is it a good exercise to process exactly how the accomplishment made you feel. Are you relieved it is over? Are you proud? Do you feel there is unfinished business? If you can determine how it made you feel and what the motivator was, it will make it easier to transition to the next phase.
Clean-up and rebuild
When I coach people, I don’t like to see the ‘one and done’. By all means you don’t have to do another IM, but take that process and work it into your life in a way that is manageable. Use the downtime to take care of things that maybe got neglected a little – house projects, time with family, and find a way to get back to balance. Personally, although I love just going and going…, I was getting burned out. So now it’s time for a step back and keep my body active in other ways that arguably improve my health even more. Back in the gym lifting heavy! Doing short sprint intervals rather than long prolonged intervals. Getting my aerobic volume by swims with friends and hiking in the mountains.
The post-race blues don’t have to mean a goodbye to fitness, but rather, are a time to change things up so you can attack next season fresh, fit and motivated!