6 Techniques to Beat the Post Ironman Blues

Finish pic

You are an IRONMAN

I can honestly say I will never forget that finishing shoot as long as I live.

Utterly overwhelming.

I’m so proud of my achievement, I know I’ve inspired my (some of my) mates, I know I’ve made (most of) my family proud and I’ve raised good money for a deserving charity.

I am fitter now than I’ve probably ever been, at least in the last ten years. And whats more, I now know I can do anything I put my mind to. It’s a dreadful cliche but I now know anything really is possible.

The problem is, right now, 8 weeks after that day, I feel, well, I feel a bit deflated.

The memories are clear but the euphoria has subsided. Could I have gone quicker? Swam better, cycled harder, run faster?

Apparently, the feeling is a well recognised symptom of what is commonly known as the Ironman Blues. And there is a simple but largely unhelpful theme that runs through all the articles I’ve read on the subject and that it ‘rest and recovery’.

Ryan Schneider wrote this for the official Ironman blog and it’s a really good read. In it he writes; after completing an Ironman…

“…It’s the race to mental recovery, where swim, bike and run are replaced with joy, pain and angst…”

In a slightly more bizarre article Ironmate describes a number of ways to overcome the lows;

“…Don’t ignore feelings listen to your mind and body. Sleep in and do not feel guilty, this is part of your reward. Enjoy not having a target to aim for…”

So, rest and recovery then. Easy right? No.

I’m guessing if you’ve done an Ironman you won’t be good at R&R. I’m not. But I’m learning. I’ve since talked this through with my swim coach and mentor Keith, of the SwimShed and here are my six key take-aways from our conversation:

  1. Keep fit but don’t over do it – Go running, cycling, swimming but do it because you enjoy it.
  2. Set a realistic deadline for recovery – 4, 6, 8 weeks, whatever, but use the time to explore the next goals.
  3. Try something completely different – Think about getting out of your comfort zone. Ironman was all about overcoming the unknown.
  4. Consider what’s right for you and your family – It’s not just about you (I’m always guilty of this).
  5. Write everything down – This seems to work for others too, I’ve found writing my experiences down to be massively fulfilling.
  6. Enjoy the rest – just chill the f*ck out, you’ve earned it!

To have a goal that is to ‘not have a goal’ for a short period of time, for a goal oriented-fella like me this is genius.

I’ve given myself until the beginning of October to break it all down and put it all back together again. I’ll talk things through with anyone who’ll listen and I’ll come up with a plan that works for my whole family.

Do I really have the blues? Nah, I don’t think so. Not now I understand it anyway.

Do I honestly believe I could have gone faster at IM Austria? Yes, probably. Do I really think I should have tried harder? No, definitely not. My goals were clear, I was alive in the moment, I enjoyed the journey immensely and I achieved everything I set myself. And that’s thing for me… having goals no matter what they are.

What’s keeping those blues at bay is my new goal… the ‘thinking about the next goal’ goal… I have until October 1st.

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