They always say the hardest part of an Ironman is the training. While I wouldn't say my Ironman was easy, particularly with the injury, I will agree that committing to the seven months of training, logging thousands of miles on my bike, hundreds of miles on my feet and countless hours in the pool, was by far harder than the race itself. But now that I'm two months post-Ironman, I think an even harder part of being a long distance triathlete is staying motivated in the offseason so you can enter into the new season ready to start over and build to your next big race.
The challenge is that you absolutely need to rest. After an Ironman you are mentally and physically exhausted whether you want to admit it or not. I think many of us pre-Ironman imagine we'll dive right back in because we're so caught up in the routine, excitement and adrenaline. But then you wake up Monday morning and realize you can finally sleep in or do something in the middle of a weekend day rather than be on your bike. At first there is guilt, you feel like you should be training. But eventually there is acceptance, and for me, an incredible amount of pleasure in non-triathlon things. Last weekend it was in the upper 60s, sunny and gorgeous. I should have been on my bike. But instead I relaxed and spent my day with a friend instead. And for the first time all year, I didn't feel guilty.
After two months, I'm just now liking the idea of a little training. I've been easing back into biking more consistently, swimming at least once a week and doing some strength training. I'd like to step up the swimming a bit and increase the strength while waiting for my foot to be ready for running. I think by December I'll be feeling even more motivated, but still in an offseason sort of way. If something else seems more appealing, if I work late or am just tired, I'll skip the training and I won't feel guilty. By February, which isn't that far away, I'll be longing for the days I chose to sleep in and blow off the training. Now is the time to recover, relax and be a non-triathlete for awhile.