The post-race blues are a well-recognised phenomenon. You’ve focussed on an event for months and all your training, eating and recovering has been done with it in mind. So when it’s all over there’s a bit of a gap – unless there’s something else on the horizon.
For me, peeping over the horizon, many months away, is the Brighton marathon. The plan has always been to have a really good rest post-Outlaw, then start the long process of teaching my body to be a running body rather than an ironman body. I’ve not really done much running during the last three years of ironman training and don’t want to make the mistake of diving into high mileage, thinking my dodgy left achilles and dodgier right knee will cope. But I have been enjoying a few pressure-free runs, watch and Garmin-free, just to get my legs back into it. Eventually I intend to throw in a weekly bike ride to help build endurance without hammering the legs (and achilles and knee) and rejoice in the new-found freedom of just having to run.
Except. A month post-Outlaw and I was still feeling a bit empty and down in the dumps. Brighton was too far off to keep the need-to-train juices flowing. So I’ve become a sea swimming junkie.
I’ve not really enjoyed the swimming part of my ironman training much – not in the chloriney, cloying confines of the pool, anyway. But every year, the freedom of training in open water has been glorious. After a kilometer or so I manage to go into a sort of trance, just splish splashing along protected by the rhythmic splosh of my hands entering the water. For the last two years we’ve holidayed in the Med where I’ve spent many happy hours minding my own business swimming around in lovely warm water, often early in the morning when the sea is flat and calm and I can have the place to myself. But a week at a time was all I could do. I suppose I didn’t pursue it because I was already thinking ahead to the next year’s ironman.
Then the lovely sea swim at Majorca 70.3 got me thinking. I needed to do more swimming post-ironman, and it had to be in the sea. Lakes are great – but the sea is so huge, with so much space and that really appeals.
So I asked around a bit one evening on Facebook and a couple of people pointed me to the Seabrook Seals who swim from the beach near Boscombe in Bournemouth. The next morning I was sitting on the beach at 8am waiting to meet some new people who, for all I knew, could have been axe murderers! Except they’re not. They’re welcoming and friendly, as tough as old boots and as mad as a box of frogs, the lot of them.
Sea swimming is my new compulsion and it’s keeping the post-race blues at bay.
Post script: the formatting’s gone awry on this post and I can’t change it – apologies for the wierd gaps. The caption to the top photo should read, “The sea at Boscombe can be calm and friendly…”