You followed a strict training regimen to get to your A race, you were impeccable in your race day preparation, you had a great event, and then it happened. Once you were done, all that energy and determination all but vanished. Does this sound like you? You are not alone.
Getting into a funk after a long sought after goal is achieved is neither new nor uncommon. The trick is how to get out of it. It happens to me after every big race. I put so much effort not just in training but in logistics, nutrition, and everything else that I get consumed. So when it’s all over, I finish burned out with no desire to get back up and start my rigorous routine again. Here are some tips I have learned along the way to not let my funk get the best of me.
Awareness is the key to any conquest. The first step to get over a training funk is to be aware that you are in one. After one rest day, I try to get back into the swing of things and it just doesn’t happen. Getting out of bed is harder, reaching my training zones is harder, and that leads me to be unmotivated to do it again the next day because, well, it’s a struggle. And that kind of struggle, of the me-against-laziness kind is simply awful. Then the next day things are hard again and before I know it, I am in a cycle. Hard time waking up + unfulfilling workout = cranky me. Once I recognize that is what is going on, I can put a stop to it. Literally.
You need some time off to clear your head. Whatever is the change that will bring you most delight … do it! It is sinfully delicious for me to sleep in past my regular 5:30am wake-up. So after a big challenge is done, I splurge. It feels wonderful to get up a whole hour later, have coffee and feel no guilt. I live near the water, and so I stop to look at it often. Stop is off. Stop is rest day. No ifs, ands, or buts.
But Not For Too Long.
Habits form in two weeks, and you don’t want to get out of the habit of training. If you are not feeling the run, then go for a swim, take a spinning class, run with a slower friend, do something active but that you enjoy and does not feel like work. The important part is to get up and get out.
Think Long Term.
When you are setting out your goals for the year, spread out the big ones. That way you have time to relax a bit, cross train, and focus on other things before you once again jump into a demanding training plan that will require a big commitment.
Change It Up.
Once you are moving but not necessarily training, you are almost at the end of the funk cycle. I start to miss my routine and find myself looking for a new goal. My new goal doesn’t have to be bigger than the last one, it doesn’t even have to be a race. This goal complements your racing goals. Between “A” races, I take some time to work on a specific area. So if I have an A race in May and another in November, I will take June and July to focus on a particular part of my training that needs some fine tuning. For example: I will focus on getting faster and add tons of speedwork or another time the focus might be getting stronger. I add strength training sessions to the mix, something that during peak training season is difficult to do.
But nothing gets you going like the pressure that a race is coming up. So determine what would work for you and put down the dollars. That commitment should put enough pressure to keep you going.
Look for Inspiration.
I’m a sucker for YouTube inspirational videos. Seeing how other people struggle and overcome their difficulties gives me prospective. If they can do it, so I can I.
And last but not least:
Nothing beats the blues more than gratitude. Look back at the road that got you to where you are. Think of all the details that came together to make it happen. Be grateful for all those who helped you along the way. Be grateful that you are healthy enough and able to run in the first place, and remember all those who wish they could but for one reason or another can’t. For them, for you, for your country that needs you to be healthy and happy in order to move it forward, take the next step. Use these strategies and get moving again.
We all need a happy, healthy, running you …. A you that continues to inspire us with your stories, your commitment and the hard work you put in to achieve your fitness goals. You are that inspirational YouTube video waiting to get made. Go get ’em.