JOURNEY 29: Post Ironman Blues
Post Ironman Blues – Get over it?
Most athletes have probably experienced this phenomenon, or some form of it. But, what is it, and how do we avoid it?
Post Ironman Blues generally occur after a big race that has had a long preparation. As the name suggests this is often an Ironman, or another long course event, but can also apply to other sporting and non sporting events that have been the sole focus for someone for a long period of time, or the end of a season.
According to the Managing Transitions Model, by William Bridges which helps describes the phenomenon, this may be the result to the person disliking change. That is, once the race is over there is a change in the physical and mental state of the athlete. This change may be opposed, consciously or sub-consciously. As a result, post Ironman or post event ‘blues’ may occur.
These blues are typically characterised by demotivation, stress, anxiety and impatience.
The transition model described by William Bridges has three distinct, clear stages:
Stage 1 – The End
Stage 2 – Neutral Zone
Stage 3 – New Beginning
Stage 1 occurs when a change is presented. In the case of triathlon this would be the days or weeks following a big race/the end of the season. This is the period where people are sad, frustrated and disorientated. The result of the race or season is often not a factor; people will generally feel the same regardless of the result. The key point is that their big focus, the driver of their motivation has ended.
Stage 2 is the neutral zone because it is a link between the end and the new beginning. It is the stage where change starts to occur, and people start working towards their new beginning. It can be a period of great innovation, and excitement but it can also be a period of low productivity, low morale and anxiety about the future.
Stage 3 occurs when a new beginning is found, often in the form of a new goal or target. In triathlon this may be another Ironman entry, goal race or winter training race. Essentially it is something that will capture the motivation of an individual and give them a new goal or end point to work towards. Often a bad race will lead to one reaching this point sooner, as it will often force a new goal.
Avoiding Post Ironman Blues
Attempting to avoid experiencing post Ironman views can be simple but is often overlooked. The easiest way is simply to set new goals. This may be prior to the first event or in the week following the event. The key is to make these goals personal, long term and powerful! This will force a new start, and give one a new beginning to work towards.
It is also important to be aware that post Ironman blues are normal or common, especially in triathlon. Allow some time for this phenomenon post race or post season and be aware that it occurs and people react differently.
Mat Tippett – Professional Ironman Coach and Ex-Professional Athlete – www.etpa.com.au
Mind Tools – Managing Transitions Model - http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/bridges-transition-model.htm