I think….YES!!!!! I compare it to a taper week, but without the excitement and expectation of the upcoming race. There is something incredibly nerve wracking and depressing about the 1-2 weeks (OR MORE!) of recovery I have to take after a race. The morning after a race, I’m so excited to sleep in (this could be caused by the fact that moving off the bed might hurt:)) and not worry about scheduling my day around my run/workout. Then…excitement shifts to discontent.
Most endurance athletes are well aware of the post-race blues or funk after their last major race of the season. I’ve experienced this a number of times, and it is no joke. I describe it as a sense of fulfillment tied to a lack of motivation, a listlessness, and a vague sense of not having anything to do that accompanies the end of a 4-12-month pursuit of a goal. You go from a highly motivated, very scheduled and organized person in life to not knowing what the heck you are supposed to do with the additional 15-35+ hours a week you just regained. (EEK! Did I just write 15-35+ hours of training a week? YOU BETCHA! But I will get into time commitments another day.)
In my opinion, the post-race RECOVERY blues are similar but decidedly different. The “funk” is there and you are not quite sure what to do because you want to bask in the glory of a completed race while alternately focusing on next steps because THE SEASON ISN’T OVER! EEK or URG (pun intended…check the “about” section for URG details). Plus, you have the added concern of balancing the need to actually let your body recover with recognizing another race is on the horizon.
For me, recovery is even more important than normal since I had a number of issues during JFK50…from knee aches, back and hamstring spasms, and a painfully tight and swollen lower back…I know I need to be smart and take care of myself before larger problems occur. My next race is the Umstead 100 in April 2016. Yup…FOUR months away. You are probably reading this and saying, “PLENTY of time!” but I see it as the race that got away. This past year, I attempted to do my first 100 miler at Umstead, only to medically pull after 50 miles with a tweaked knee (Root Cause: Blisters and hot spots = running incorrectly). The pressure I am putting on myself to get back into full training mode can be intense, even more so for this next big race. According to my friends and family, I had been looking strong and was in second place before pulling. OUCH..that STILL stings.
BEATING THE BLUES: Good food, good friends, Thanksgiving, and GLORIOUS WINE 🙂 No, seriously. JFK50 is the weekend before Thanksgiving so I made myself rest, stretch and get a massage. Then, with “Friendsgiving” on the horizon, I skipped the run and jumped on my tri-bike and trainer. I caught up on some Nashville and Scandal (you better not be judging…), baked some pies, grabbed some bubbly and wine, and went to Thanksgiving hosted by one of the most amazing women I know (and my maid of honor, or MOH) to celebrate.
Surrounding yourself with amazing people, which included a precocious two-year-old screaming “MORE PIE!”, is a sure fire way to help pull you out of any funk. Plus…WINE! Nothing like a Brut Cava Rose to start off festivities, followed by a lovely Bourgogne with a perfectly brined and roasted turkey, and then…PIE! Since then I’ve been on some light workouts and focusing on releasing the tightness in my lower back. It’s difficult when I want to jump in, but common sense must play a role in this “ultra” adventurous life.
Every athlete’s recovery is different and depends on how they feel. My plan for this “recovery period” is to do something I have NOT done before…which is take it easy and slowly build back up. Slow…for endurance athletes that means something different. For me, it means I’m taking it easy and this next weekend (2 weeks post-race) I will be doing 18 miles. Maybe…if the body is feeling ok.