It’s November-the end of the race season for most triathletes. After an extended stretch of focused physical and mental preparation, you may find yourself asking, “What do I do now?” You may even experience true PSB (post season blues) or PIB (post Ironman blues). You put all of your time and energy into a key event or a long season and now it’s over. Lots of athletes feel lost and unfocused for a period of weeks after their final race. However, there are things that you can do to make this transitional period of time productive. Here are some suggestions of things to keep in mind as you move into your off season.
Thank you Sarah!
It was a totally great experience. I started getting a nasty head and upper respiratory cold Thursday and it has gotten progressively worse each day since. I was bummed that I felt bad on race day (sore throat, clogged ears, head ache, lungs the size of peanuts, you know typical cold stuff) , but as the cold has gotten worse I am SO GRATEFUL it didn't come on sooner than it did. It is kicking my butt right now and I am in a self prescribed quarantine. I will certainly take some time to rest :)
However, even with a cold (and maybe because of my cold) I feel very happy with the race. I thought the happiest I would feel would be right at the finish line, but I have gotten happier and felt more satisfied as I have reviewed the race and my responses to the various things that happen on race day. I wish I knew how to explain this but I can't really find the words.
The results are right where I wanted (on a perfect day I would have liked to be faster on the run and I might have pushed the bike a little more), but more important than my time, I felt happy (hurting but happy) during the race and can't even express enough how much the mental preparation you had us do helped me. When I was struggling during the run, I was able to review the various things I had planned to accomplish with the race and it kept me green in spite of sounding like a 60 year old smoker when I breathed :) I was so glad I took the time to go over what a perfect race would be AND how I would handle the bad things. In the past, I have always imagined what a perfect race would be but would then fall apart because my perfect race seldom falls into place - Crap happens :) However, as old as I am, it has never occurred to me to actively prepare for the mishaps. I guess it seemed like bad mental mojo to think of the bad things that could happen. I had no idea how much it could help me in the race. Funny thing is that the bad things I thought might happen (with the exception of swimming over jellies) didn't happen, but I still felt prepared to cope with the things that did happen.
A few months ago my family and I were watching Alphas (secret government agency made up of people with superhero powers). A new recruit showed up at the office looking for a job. “You want me on your team,” she announced. “I’m awesome!”. This has now become a rallying cry for my family, whenever one of us experiences moments of self doubt. “Of course you’ll get your college applications done - you’re awesome.” “Your jazz concert is going to be great - you’re awesome”. “I’m with you for Pictionary, you’re awesome.”
First-I would recommend this race to anyone! Volunteers were amazing, course was great and the finish line was the best I’ve crossed (anytime you put a finish line in an area with two stories of bars it WILL be fun!) Ironman charges a hefty entry fee, but it’s well worth the money. Now onto the details:
On August 15, 2012, my Dad passed away. He was my hero. He was an athlete his entire life and he taught me to believe in myself, follow my dreams and never give up. It only seemed appropriate that an endeavor like Ironman would be a great way to honor him.
I had no time goals for this race. That may seem strange to some people, but for me this year and this event were all about the process of dealing with my grief. And while Ironman training requires a lot of time and discipline, I wanted to keep my priorities balanced in the process. Triathlon is something that I LOVE, but at this point in my life it is important to me that my family comes first. Dad’s passing reiterated this fact even more. I researched extensively and found a coach (Katie Malone) who would get me there as strong and ready as I could be but who also understood my time constraints and the balance that I was looking for in a training program. I couldn’t have asked for a better match! The training was therapeutic for me. I got to spend a lot of time with people who lifted me up, and I often felt like Dad was with me on those long bikes and runs.
I did have some other goals for the race, though. They were: 1) Celebrate Dad and race like he lived his life: never give up, always stay positive, and demonstrate integrity 2) Never give anything less than my best at any given moment 3)Have fun (yes-that sounds cliché, but I was determined to spend the day with a smile on my face). 4) Stay out of the ambulance (ask my husband about my 1999 Lake Placid experience sometime…I promised him that there would not be a repeat!)
I spent a lot of time preparing myself mentally (and, of course, physically). On race day, I felt super confident because I had a solid plan and also knew that I had the mental tools in place to assess and adjust it as needed. Once Ironman day finally rolls around, fitness is there if you’ve done the training. It becomes a race of smart decision making.
It's that time of year again. You know, the one where it feels like you are stepping out into pea soup every time you leave your house? This is the time of year where I start to get panic e-mails or training peaks comments from you all telling me that you feel like you have the flu, that workout felt like death, you can't hit paces that you were easily hitting a month ago, etc, etc, etc. All normal reactions as our bodies adjust to the heat and humidity. Here are a couple of great articles that explain what takes place in our bodies during this weather and how and why performance can be affected:
Here are some other key points to keep in mind during this time of year:
1) It takes about two weeks of consistent heat exposure for the body to adapt. Expect to see increases in heartrates, drop in paces, increased fatigue and longer recovery periods as the adjustment takes place. Put away the U-Suck-O-Meter during this period of time.
2) Electrolytes are just as important as hydration. Water alone will not be sufficient in this kind of weather. If you are not training with an electrolyte sports drink, supplement with a product such as Endurolytes, FRS, or Metasalt.
3) Plan your hydration stops. Don't let yourself "run dry" on a long workout. If you are doing a long run, do loops where you can stash water in a cooler at the end of each one. If you are going on a long ride, make sure that there are stores or gas stations on your route so that you can replenish. Don't underestimate the effect that swimming in a hot lake will take, either. Drink up right when you finish a long swim.
4) Try doing intense sessions early in the morning or late in the evening. That way you are more likely to hit targets. Save your easy and moderate sessions for the heat of the day.
5) If you do happen to get dehydrated or overheated, realize that it may take a few days to fully recover. You may feel extremely lethargic, sore and tired for a period of time afterwards. Drink, drink, drink and take extra electrolytes during this time period.
Train smart and email your coach if you have any questions.
My hands still get sweaty when I remember my first mountain bike race. I was fairly prepared physically but completely under prepared mentally. My heart was pounding at the start line and I was physically shaking as I entered the first section of single track. About two minutes later I flipped over the handlebars in a rock garden and walked back out with a broken collarbone. Several sub par finishes and two more broken collarbones later I decided mountain biking was not for me. As an adult I've tried at various times to get back into mountain bike racing but I struggle to enjoy it the way I do other cycling disciplines as I too often find myself scared and panicky on the start line and frustrated with my performance at the finish line.
Time Trialing is one of my favorite types of races as it's totally clean. Unlike road racing, where race tactics play a huge roll in the final outcome, in time trialing it's almost always the strongest (rather than the craftiest) rider who ends up on the podium. It is, however, often the case that new time trialists underperform in their early races due to poor pacing. It's very easy to go out too hard or to get caught up trying to catch the guy who went out in front of you and consequently, fade dramatically at the end of your race.
When I race a time trial, I always try to break the ride into four parts. In the first lap my only goal is to find my rhythm. In the second lap, I'm focusing on my power number and staying as smoothly consistent as possible. The third lap is always the hardest. It's to soon to start counting down and it's easy to fall apart. My only focus is holding the power steady and resisting the temptation to ease up. The final lap is when I try to switch to attack mode. I'm no longer trying to hold back or control my effort , I'm just doing all I can to hit that finish line as soon as possible.
One of the most over looked parts of Endurance Training plans is fueling. Like your climbing strategy, your fueling strategy doesn't magically become apparent on race day. It's something you have to practice and plan for. It's also something you have to actively DO on a long ride. You can't just rely on "eating when you're hungry". If you wait that long, you're already behind and catching up while pedaling is a very big ask of your body.
Here are a few things to think about when creating your fueling plan: