What nobody really tells you about completing an Ironman, is what comes after the race. You spend around 6 months of waking up every single day and thinking about your training in some way, shape or form. That’s not being dramatic – it really does consume you and everything you do, even if you’re just ‘doing it to finish’.
Throughout training you probably have the days when you think or state that you “can’t wait to finish Ironman training and get your life back” – it’s natural after being in a constant state of fatigue, trying to juggle a work life/ family life/ social life and training.
However, nobody can ever really prepare you for how you feel post-race. Sure, you’re elated, you feel high on adrenaline, and you can still conjure up Goosebumps as you remember your red carpet finish… but what then? That’s when things start to turn.
Ironman blues are real – the feeling that something is missing in your life, your sense of purpose has left as well as your motivation. You feel almost depressed.
When you do head out for runs (the kind that you’re doing just for fun and not because your plan says you have to – the kind you craved for the last 6 months), your legs feel like lead. Your steady pace is hurting more than race-pace – you feel awful.
What’s worse, you probably follow numerous people on Instagram who are back training – and the proper kind, they may even have another race booked in. You feel even more terrible about yourself for being ‘pathetic’ or ‘dramatic’ about your recovery… it was only an Ironman.
If any of this sounds familiar, I hope this helps you realise that you are not the only one! After my first two races I didn’t feel normal at all – not even after the 6-8 weeks that people talk about… it wasn’t until week 12 when I felt like my body was coping normally again. It was also by this point that I fell back into a rhythm of being able to train for enjoyment, still feel motivated and not feel like an upcoming Ironman race was my only purpose in life.
If you follow me closely, you’re probably rolling your eyes if you know that I am actually one of those people currently in training for a second race – this is true. I absolutely would have had no chance of doing this after my first two, but I did feel ‘recovered’ enough to start training again by week 4 (I hope my body feels ready to race!) The point is, everyone is different, every race is different… don’t beat yourself up. YOU DID AN IRONMAN. Just sit and think about those distances, the time your body spend doing physical exercise, the stress it’s had to cope with – your body/mind probably should be struggling, so don’t worry about it and enjoy the recovery and free time!