The Day After the Big Race


By LifeSport Coach Lucy Smith

November 4, 2013 (ISN) – There is no finish Line: Are you ready for the day after your last big race of the season? Athletes often plan their season meticulously and prepare for races with an energy and passion that is unmatched elsewhere in their lives. You have a training plan mapped over several months and every day is a session that brings you closer to your goal.

From taking care of your body to tinkering with your bike and gear, you create a forward momentum to your goal race that becomes a constant part of your life. You are committed to eating well, sleeping well, and making positive choices on a daily basis to support your big goal races. You even have a vision of what that finish is going to look like and how you feel crossing it. This is awesome and a fantastic part of sport, but do you have a picture of the day or weeks, or months after?

Without even knowing it sometimes, athletes have a huge emotional-as well as physical– investment in their goals. The larger the event, the larger the investment and when the event is all over, there is sometimes a feeling of letdown as all that energy dissipates into the playing field. Without the goal pulling you forward, there is an emotional void and a sense of letdown or post race blues after the adrenaline wears off. This is totally normal behaviour and being prepared for the week after your goal race is an essential part of season planning. This is especially true when you reach the last race of the season.

While we look at race as the great parts of the season, A Zen approach would suggest that all periods are neither good nor bad, they just are. While sport is full of highs and lows, weathering everything with a sense of the satisfaction and wonder creates a peaceful relationship with your journey. The off season can provide as much satisfaction as racing, if approached with a sense of adventure.

Here are some other tips for preparing for the ‘other’ part of your season.

  • Have a plan for what’s next. Whether it is a two week vacation in Hawaii, or a detailed recovery and regeneration plan, plan your post race training well in advance to race day. A good training plan includes at least 4-6 weeks of post season recovery training anyway, and if you are planning on a break, then make sure you know how you are going to fill your time. Knowing what to do and what you want to do after the race goes a long way to filling the void.
  • Put that energy to good use. Plan on a few projects or goals that don’t revolve around racing. Switching gears and getting some other things done provides a nice balance to the single minded focus of big sport goals. Choose some alternate sports for a while, and ones that you can enjoy with your friends, partner, kids etc…
  • Reflect on your race and your season and review your process. Reflecting is a great process for appreciating your accomplishments and finding a sense of purpose and happiness about things you love. If journaling isn’t a smooth process then simple lists will do. Make sure you include things that you did well and things that need improvement when looking at your race. List 5 goals you accomplished during the season and 5 workouts you loved. Note 5 things you want to learn or improve upon.
  • If your season ended in disappointment, wait several days before writing your review and give yourself time to absorb the experience before making decisions. All races are opportunities to learn, and while disappointing races are hard to take initially, they are often the ones with the biggest hidden gifts of making us more resilient, smarter and appreciative of the good moments.
  • Live in the moment AND think ahead. While most people think only of their next race or in one year season cycles, great training plans encompass development in 2-4 year spans. When you know that your last training and racing macrocycle is only a part of a bigger picture, you get a good sense of perspective that allows you to fully appreciate all the moments that a season offers.

LifeSport Coach Lucy Smith has coached athletes to podium finishes in Ironman (elite and age group), Olympic distance, Triathlon, Duathlon and distance running. If you are interested in working with Lucy, write

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