Ironman Hangover

Lately, I have no drive, no desire. Actually, that's untrue. Seems I have much drive and desire for things like, say, the occasional (nightly) glass of red wine...or four, hanging out at my condo and cooking, spending countless hours at the barn, taking weekends to travel and visit friends and family I haven't seen in what seems like forever, trying to figure out some god-forsaken location to host a wedding, et cetera.

And now and again, I get the twinge to strap on my runners and move my legs over a handful of miles (or three).

But when it comes to getting in the pool or on my bike, I just can't seem to do it.

I've thought about both. Quite a bit. Once I was almost on my way out the door to Masters. But then I really thought about it. And then, suddenly, I was on the couch watching Dancing With the Stars.

Walking to work this morning, I had a dreaded thought: what if I'm just a normal person in triathlete's clothing?

After all, shouldn't I be itching to get back on my bike and back in the pool? Shouldn't I be checking out programs that are going to make me faster and stronger for next season? Shouldn't I be planning next season? (I got the email update last week from Midwest Sports Events with next season's events and dates, and what did I do? Hit "delete").

Because I'm not. At all. Doing any of it.

And lately, I've felt bad about this. At best it makes me feel like I'm an impostor Iron(wo) who snuck something by everyone else on this whole journey -- like I didn't really earn it as much as others did. At worst, I feel like it wasn't even really me who completed that insane/amazing journey only two months back -- like it was someone else who looked a lot like me and had a life like mine and the same people in it, but wasn't actually me.

And on my morning walk to work today, I realized that it's not the activity that I've been having an adverse reaction to. Rather, it's the schedule. And, as such, I've come to loathe the dreaded schedule.

For the past year, every second of my day was scheduled. In fact, with two to three-hour workouts each night, dogs to entertain, a horse to check in on now and then, committee meetings to attend, and work to show up at, there wasn't even time left over for dentist appointments, grocery shopping, or accepting any kind of impromptu "let's meet for a drink after work" invitations from friends. Every night, looking at the next day's workout and trying to figure out how I would fit those hours in in addition to everything else that had to get done, was a lesson in stress management for me.

And that -- the schedule -- is what I don't miss. At all. Having to do something. Having to be somewhere. Having to cram it all in and figure out how I was going to exercise my dog and get a swim in all at the same time.

What I need to get my head around, though, is that it's not all-or-nothing. I can do a three-mile run, and call it a day. I can attend Master's once a week, and be okay with that. Or try.

But eventually, if I'm going to continue with triathlon -- which I would like to do -- I'm going to need to get back on a program. And sticking to the program or doing the work doesn't freak me out. Losing my freedom to a schedule once again does, though.

In the meantime, today, I took a baby step and started running again. (Amazing how quickly that endurance leaves the body!). More on that to come...

Posted by Erin 7:48 AM


  1. Team Brazo said...
    re: "At best it makes me feel like I'm an impostor Ironman"

    I know the feeling - I think it is hard to "replace" that IronMan feeling -- not the finish but the "consumption" of life that it takes to get there. Even though I sometimes dread that schedule -- I need it. I'm "wired" to have the need of a "sense of accomplishment" -- and I need it daily (part of my programmer background).

    Enjoy your evening...
    J-Wim said...
    It is the off season, your A race is done, there is nothing wrong with kicking back and enjoying life a little. You worked hard for an entire year.
    Do some when you feel like it, relax when you need to, and get back in the swing if things for spring.
    Megan said...
    I agree with J- that's why it called the off season. And it sounds like the time once devoted to IM is now being spent elsewhere, which doesn't make you any less and triathlete or IM. You earned that, and when you're ready, you'll get back into it. After all those months of scheduling and training, take a few off. And love them.
    RunBubbaRun said...
    I'm glad I'm not the only one not doing a master class or real bike riding.

    Just do what appeals to you when you wake up in the morning, do different things masked as training.. Enjoy the off season.

    Yeah I'm tired of training schedules right now as well.
    Jason said...
    Sounds all too familiar. I have felt this way after most Ironmans. I found it best not stress over it and just do whatever you enjoy. You soon find what works for you. It does feel good not to be tied down to that prewritten schedule.
    ace said...
    I think what you are feeling is perfectly natural. Once a large and consuming goal is completed, I think everyone's first response is to celebrate then sit back and put their feet up. Psychologically it just makes sense. And probably physically as well. I've also felt this "put your feet" up response was the bodies way to recharge. So I say enjoy your time to do with as you choose. I doubt you've been "cured" of the Ironman bug just yet.
    Triteacher said...
    Erin, I can relate. I'm over a year out from my IM and I STILL don't miss that dang schedule. It's very freeing. And hey, I'm living proof that the shorter stuff does not have to be consuming.

    Nicely written piece, as usual. :)
    Steve Stenzel said...
    Dancing With the Stars? I mean, REALLY?!?!

    I can't visit your blog anymore. I just doesn't seem right anymore.

    ; )
    Fe-lady said...
    This feeling is so NORMAL after anything all-consuming! You need this time off...and you WILL be back. Just give yourself this time to do other things!
    Fe-lady said...
    Have to tell you...I just viewed your IM WI slide show. What great photos-and what a great family you have. I love the t-shirts! You my dear are truly blessed with friends and family and athleticism! Don't EVER let someone like "Lil miss 12:00" bother you again! :-)
    Andra Sue said...
    Oh my SO hit the nail on the head with this post! "Walking to work this morning, I had a dreaded thought: what if I'm just a normal person in triathlete's clothing?"

    This is RIGHT where I am at the moment and it's frustrating. I didn't do an IM, but I did my first half this year (same day as IMWI). I've been trying to figure out why I'm not motivated to train lately--I've been running like 2x a week, but no bike or swim--and I think it is partly hating the over-scheduled life. Only, now I've gone and signed up for a marathon and another HIM, so I've gotta figure out how to get over it!

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