Thursday, August 29, 2013

Avoiding (or getting over) that End of Season LOST Feeling

In the last post I wrote about recognizing the 'crispy' phase of the season, and how to avoid it turning into burn-out or full blown over-training or injury.

Another proactive activity right now is to head-off the inevitable Post Race Depression Syndrome that comes with finishing an 'A' race - especially the last one of the season. If you've been in this situation, then take some solace in knowing that EVERY person I know experiences this. 
This especially happens if you have a really good race. It's similar to the Christmas morning syndrome. You feel elated at the race afterwards, you head home and maybe even celebrate that afternoon or evening. Have a nap. And then things spiral into the, "Ok, *now* what?" - At best, this happens a day or two after. For some, it happens shortly after crossing the finish line.

It's also driven by the fact that most training plans effectively take you up to race day and that's it. They simply end with a single, final entry of 'RACE'. It's a bit of cruel abandonment if you ask me.

Some coaches at least acknowledge this post race period. Joe Friel calls it 'Transition', as in transition to your next race. But what if that isn't going to happen until the following year? Those are some long, cold fall and winter months to get through all alone. No plan, no structure, no goals... just silence and a fading victory lap from your last race.

The best proven way to prevent this is to set some concrete goals. Even better is to set them AHEAD of your last 'A' race so you have something to fall into directly after the elation of your finished race flickers out (and it will). If you're already in the tree well, then lesson learned - although now is just as good a time as ever to dig yourself out. It doesn't get better just wallowing in the pit. You'll slip out of shape, start putting on weight and get even grumpier. Trust me on this.

Here's a set of sample objectives / goals / activities to move you forward:

Not a good way to spend your off-season
First and fore-most: STOP EATING LIKE YOU ARE STILL AT TRAINING VOLUME! Believe me, you're probably over-eating right now. Calories out went down. Calories in needs to follow - right freakin' now! What you don't want to do is put on 5-10 lbs right in time to slide into the holiday season. Friends don't let friends 'hoss' up - so pull your head out of the feed trough.

Ok, here's some suggestions / ideas:
1. Spend time reviewing your year and performance and determining what your weak spots were. Maybe it was a lack of top end speed? Maybe your swim was based on survival and you'd like to be more competitive out of the water? Maybe you're leg turn-over isn't what you'd like it to be. Put together a set of strengths and weaknesses that you'd like to focus on over the winter. Then start thinking about how to close the gaps. If it's the swim, maybe join a Masters team and do some swim meets. Yeah, you're gonna get creamed by full time swimmers - but who cares? You have an excuse. If your run feels like a dead moose falling down a steep, rocky hill - find a coach and get some skills and form training. Some of the drills to improve your run can be down-right fun.

2. Do rides / runs / swims / hikes / etc.. with family members and friends that didn't want anything to do with you when you were a schedule driven, type-A, nut log. Make it up to them. Ride off the back. Ride in street clothes.

3. See if you can spend a weekend without driving your car even once. Go to the store by bike and haul groceries in a bike trailer or backpack. Ride the bike or run to take the kids to school. In short - try to incorporate your formerly obsessive workout oriented sport into more lifestyle oriented sport.

4. Sign up for some 'fun' races. They have a ton of non-competitive type events. Or even better - sign up to help someone else achieve their goal. Help pace them and chat with them or even just show up to cheer them on.

5. Volunteer at a race. It's pretty darn fun to be all nice and cozy in warm clothes, stress free at the start of watching others race on a cold October morning. Of course you'll probably catch the bug to want to race again - that's kind of the point.

6. Change it up. Just raced a marathon or half? See if you can spend the next 8 weeks getting good at 5K distance in time for the turkey trots. Every wondered what your 'mile' time could be? Spend 8 weeks training to PR that on the track. Go out and learn to climb hills on your bike. Ride your mountain bike if you're a roadie. Try to learn to ride a wheelie - back and front (hint - learn to do this on a grassy field). Learn to ride your bike down a short set of stairs (preferably outdoors, but not necessarily). Trail run. Track run. Or go play another sport entirely.

Learn to wheelie your road bike like Sagan....
or even better, spend the winter learning all these tricks in the video below...

OK. Sure... If you must...
Uhhmm..... Ok... yeah, why not...
NO. Absolutely not. I don't care if it is up for being an Olympic sport....
...or apparently a regular occurrence on the VMA award shows.
Ok, now that I've got image haunting me for the foreseeable future.. Here's what's in the plan for me post season:

1. Get fitted for a new tri-bike. I figure that it's probably better to get fitted at the end of the season when I'm all tuned into that position rather than at the start after riding my road bike all winter. Plus - I've never been professionally fitted and it would be good just to know. The new bike purchase however may have to wait - we'll see.

2. Spend 8-12 weeks focusing on the 5K distance and trying to PR it. I've never exclusively focused on it and it will be a fun break to run less volume but higher intensity.

3. Get back in the gym and start weight training again - I actually miss it. Get better at keeping my TRX sessions a couple times a week at least.

4. Take some more swim lessons and start attending Masters on a more regular basis. Immerse (npi) myself in swimming a bit more.

5. Set a PR on Lookout Mt. I haven't worked at that since I was in my 30's. I think I can beat it based on a recent impromptu TT last Saturday and some rough power calculations :-)

6. Get a new tattoo. Very simple ode to finally feeling like a triathlete. It's a surprise - but nothing my mom will admonish. Well, other than her usual sigh and head shaking. (shhhh... she thinks it makes me feel guilty... it doesn't. I know being her first-born buys me that extra lee-way ;-) And yes - she reads this blog - 'Hi Mom!'

7. Planning a Moab trip with a couple buddies to celebrate my 50th birthday this October.

That's my plan. And it starts on September 10th - (two days after my last race). Why not the day after? Sorry - that day is reserved for sitting on the couch, drinking Pepsi from the liter bottle and eating M&M's out of that hefty size bag from Costco. Hope I can still fit into my race kit in the Spring!!

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