DEALING WITH POST RACE BLUES

DEALING WITH POST RACE BLUES

 

POST SEASON BLUES

Feeling post race or event season blues?  Have just come off a great season and completed some big goals?  Well congratulations!!  But now what?

The power of goal setting and the feeling we get when we accomplish the goal, is really very empowering.  Some of you out there, may have had the same specific goal of completing a Gran Fondo, or a Centurion, a Marathon, Triathlon or even an Iron Man.

Having a specific goal is great, but it is not the only way to achieve better fitness and strength.  We can achieve this by devoting time to build fitness, strength, stamina, but with the most important element and that is consistency.  Being consistent in your training pays off by lowering your stress levels, keeps your body weight in a healthy range, as well as improving fitness.

WHAT IS POST RACE BLUES

Before I give you some guidelines as what to do next, I first want to highlight that setting  and achieving the goal not only produces such an emotional high, it also can produce an emotional low.  This is not just a phenomenon experienced by high level elite athletes, but it happens to anyone who has spent time devoted to training for an athletic goal.  Thousands of athletes (me included) experience post event blues, and sometimes even a mild depression, as switching gears suddenly can cause a drop in the “feel-good” hormone (endorphins) produced by training and racing.   Endorphins are chemicals released by your pituitary gland which is located at the base of your brain.  These endorphins make you feel exhilarated and happy, and can also block any negative feelings.  Stress, and pain are the two most common factors that lead to the body producing endorphins, and in this case, the stress is the physical stress of cycling .  The endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to minimize our perception of pain, and the amount of endorphin the body releases will vary depending on the individual.   There are a few other hormones the body produces when we cycle or run, or do something physically active, but it’s the endorphins that are responsible for the happiness we get from cycling and achieving a goal.  So obviously, you can see, when we take away the thing that releases this hormone, the body can go into an almost state of “withdrawal”.  The withdrawal of the release of the hormones, can cause us to feel, a little blue, a little flat and a little at loose ends.  So, the first thing to realize before you do anything, is to understand this is completely normal.  The next most important thing to know, is what to do so the blues don’t turn into something more than a mild depression into a prolonged and serious bout of depression where you may not want to do anything at all.  This can happen in the fall, as we are face shorter days, less daylight and hence less natural Vitamin D.  Which is known also as the happy vitamin.  That is why, some nutritionists and Dr’s recommend taking a Vitamin D supplement during the fall and winter months.  If you are an individual who suffers from some form of seasonal deficit disorder (SAD) then see your Dr or Naturopath for some advice on supplementation.

TRANSITION TO OFF SEASON - WHAT TO DO

There are some additional things you can do to help yourself transition through this in a healthy productive way.  The following are a list of ways you can move a little smoother through this period of time.

Implement some cross-training activities into your schedule to allow your body to recover from the cycling event, but still challenge you physically.  Below are a list of options.

Hiking

Rollerblading

Elliptical machine

Vigorous forms of yoga such as Ashtanga Yoga, Hot Yoga, Flow Yoga

Set up an easy outdoor ride or run with a friend/s and follow with a nice hot drink or lunch

Get back into the gym, or if you have exercise equipment at home, do 1-2 resistance and core training sessions a week, to work on imbalances and the bodies core stability

The above ideas can help if you are struggling with the emotional let down after completing a big event.  However, I believe the best thing to do is to take “scheduled downtime”.  The event or race you have completed has taken a heavy toll on the body physically and mentally, and you may not realize this until afterwards, with a single focused on training, along with eating right and getting enough sleep.   This single-minded focus can actually hide the signs of stress and strain on the mind and body, and the cumulative fatigue can show up in an illness and maybe even a small injury.  The worst thing you can do is to dive back into structured training too quickly, therefore, I feel it is essential to take time to go easy and fully allow recovery to happen.  We can’t see the microscopic damage to the muscle tissue, that is going on when we train,  even though to get stronger and faster, this break down in muscle and tissue is necessary, bu to continue to improve, we need to rebuild and reset and recharge, and a scheduled break will allow this process to happen.

This “scheduled downtime” can be done a few different ways, and below I give you one approach that I have personally taken, as well as given to those who I coach.

POST SEASON RECOVERY MONTH SUGGESTION

Week one: (all sports, from cycling, running, Multi-sport)

No riding or running or swimming at all – just hiking or some longer walks, every day with the exception of one full day off

Hilly terrain vs Interval TrainingWeek two: (depending on what sport you are in)

1 easy social spins with friends on non-challenging terrain – no more than 2 hours

and/or 1 easy short run with friends

1 early  morning swim with group

1 core and resistance workout

Week three:

2 easy social spins with friends – no more than 2 hours

and/or 2 easy run with friends

2 early morning swims with group

1 core and resistance workout

Week four:

Structured training is introduced by including 1 interval workout

2 social spins with friends – no more than 2 hours

and/or 2 easy run with friends

2 early morning swims with group

1 moderate intensity ride – no more than 90 minutes

During the month you are allowing your body and mind to recharge.  It is also a good time to think about what you would like to do the following year.  Search the internet to see what what  you can find, and make some notes on events, dates and locations.  The planning process will help keep you motivated, and to stay in shape over the cold dark winter months.

 

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