For two years (2011-2012) all I thought about was completing the Ironman. Everything I talked about in some way was related to my nutrition, training, or race day preparation for the big race. My complete focus was to fulfill my life long dream of completing the Ironman when I turned 40. The mental and physical effort required to train for and complete the Ironman was immense and all consuming. In less than one year I entered 3 Ironman distance events. (Clermont Aquabike, Full Vineman, and Montreal Esprit). Read my story here
After 2 years of training....I did it! I completed my goal! Finishing the Ironman was by far the biggest accomplishment I have achieved in my racing life. In my mind I have reached the top and there is no event that will motivate me anywhere near the level I needed to complete an Ironman.
OK....Now what? After racing for 22 years and completing hundreds of road races and triathlons of all distances now what should I do? Should I retire and become a golfer? Should I take up gardening? I completed my Ironman on September 9th, 2012. Since then I have done a few half marathons and a number of 5k's but my motivation just isn't there. Every year at the end of the racing season I usually would get an idea about a certain event or distance I wanted to do the following season. This winter that did not happen. I tried to mentally force myself to "want" to enter a spring marathon or get in shape for early season triathlons but I just cannot generate any motivation or true interest. I am truly content and it is a little scary.
That's not to say I haven't been working out. One thing I have learned is that if you don't have to do something and you choose to do it then it must be something you truly enjoy. Since the Ironman I have not swam one stroke. I have done a few easy spins on the bike trainer over the winter but until last week my bike was still on the trainer collecting dust.
What I truly enjoy doing is running. I have been running 25-30 miles a week this year and I am not signed up for any big events. I just run 4-5 times a week and typically run 5-9 miles each time. For me this is very enjoyable and keeps me in reasonable shape. I also have been running in the Good Times 5k Series every Tuesday night which is also fun and satisfies my craving for racing. I am having a great time!
So is this a problem? Shouldn't I continue to be super motivated and ready to tackle my next big challenge? How can I possibly be happy if I am not training for a major event? I think what I am learning is that I do this for fun and right now I am having fun. In addition to running I have re-joined my Friday golf league. I stopped golfing last year due to Ironman training. I forgot how much I really enjoy playing golf and enjoying the company of friends on the golf course. Due to Ironman training I basically alienated a certain group of my friends due to lack of time. I didn't have time for golf or any of my other interests. I think this is typical for many people training for a major event. You are either training or recovering...not much else.
After completing a major event like the Ironman I think it is beneficial to take a break. Too many people try to ride the "high" of completing a major goal and roll right into another event. Sometimes this works but many times I have seen athletes get injured or the whole process becomes a lot of work with no enjoyment.
I know I will get motivated to tackle another challenge but I am not rushing into anything. I will continue to enjoy my Ironman "high" and run/race for fun. I plan on getting out for a few rides and open water swims and re-connect with the enjoyable parts of triathlon training. The big difference from last year is that if it is rainy, windy, or cold I will not have to force myself to ride or swim...better yet I will go for a run instead!
In case you haven't seen my Ironman finish...check out the video below.