Two weeks ago I discussed key components for a race plan. So what happens afteryour race? Do you have a plan? As you build racing experience, your plan will become more apparent. This article will focus on a plan after you finish your first event.
You train for months – maybe years – for your peak event. Is it your first 5k, first marathon, first sprint or first Ironman distance triathlon? You followed your race plan outline, achieved your goal, celebrated. NOW WHAT? If you don’t have a plan, eventually that “now what” feeling can break you mentally: lack of motivation to continue training.
If you are a newbie, what I have learned from my coaching experience, when you finish your first running or triathlon event, you will either love it or hate it. You will go home and sign up for your next event immediately or decide “been there, done that, what else can I do?” Either way, learn from your first experience, reflect on your training and decide what worked and what did not. Devise a training plan for your next event. Set some goals, will you train to go longer or faster? I suggest you spend 1-3 years gaining experience with training and racing before you decide to go longer. If you finished your first race, celebrate your finish, and cross it off your bucket list.
If you are a first year IronDistance triathlon finisher, celebrate all you have accomplished and more, appreciate your ability to go the exteme distance and let your body and mind heal so you can enjoy your next event. I think people get all caught up in finishing that Ironman, essentially putting all their physical and emotional eggs in that basket instead of being a triathlete. As a triathlete there is a rich diversity of triathlon races to do, of varying distances and formats. For too many I think, their whole world seems to revolve around the longer events like ironman. The training takes so much of my time, you may feel at a loss of what to do when you no longer put in the huge hours towards that goal therefore the lack of motivation
If you engage in common practices such as nutrition and hydration, ice baths, massage, compression and sleep, you will speed up your recovery which leads to greater motivation to continue training and racing. With proper sleep and nutrition, the human body is truly amazing at repairing itself. If you can take a few days to help move the recovery process along after your event, you will get your body ready to train again sooner.
What you do with your training post event will depend on your race distance and your next goal. Sometimes I continue with my rigorous training schedule, while other times I schedule a period of time “off,” depending on the distance of my event or the time of year. Your plan depends on YOUR goals.
For many of us, it is good to have a period of unstructured training to use as a transition before beginning to prepare for the next event. Often my plan is active recovery. I like to keep moving by getting in the water, spinning on my bike on the flats in the easiest gear, and going for some walk/jogs with my dogs. No training devices like a heart rate monitor or GPS. I just go and enjoy the outdoors and moving my body.
Reflect and revise. Your results determine where you have been. Your goal will determine where you are going. After you re-establish your benchmarks and fitness assessments, you will know where you now stand. There always comes a point in our competitive lives when we wonder, “Will I ever achieve…?” For you that may be have been to complete a 5k or triathlon. Now that you’ve achieved your goal, maybe your want to get fitter, stronger, faster or go longer.
Fitness and sport should be a lifetime commitment. You have many options to continue building on your fitness each year. Stay focused. Set long-range goals with weekly and daily mini steps. Achieving your goal is about setting a long-range goal and then getting a coach or reading how to get there via the small steps.
It is totally normal after the event to have the blues and not know what to do without a new goal ahead. I have been racing for 20 years. I just stay focused on being an athlete. I have a passion to be active and fit, so my drive is fitness and doing what I enjoy. If training for another event is not something you enjoy, find out what is.
I would love to hear how you are doing and what your plans are. Please send me a message.