At the moment I am totally dealing with a post-event come down.
At the weekend I was in Stoke for the Roller Derby British Championships, at which we not only achieved our goal of promotion to Tier 2, but also managed to finish up placed second in the whole of Tier 3.
This is an event that we’ve been training for as a team, and personally, for the whole year. 5 or 6 hours of training as a team each week, plus hours working on our personal fitness goals, learning about nutrition and mental prep and making sure we were in the position we wanted to be to finish the season strong.
I’m not only dealing with the come down from a physically and mentally exhausting weekend, but also potentially faced with the disappearance of what was a very immediate and pressing goal.
In my case I know that an even tougher season is appearing over the horizon. I have annual try outs to think about and goals and plans for next season. But that’s not always the case. Often we spend a lot of time working towards a big event, training for a half marathon or triathlon, or organising a major event (like Norwich Cocktail Week in my case!) and when it’s over we’re left with a big hole in our lives where the planning for it should be.
So today I have some practical advice to help you avoid sliding into that post-event slump and malaise.
As tempting as it is to take a total break after a big event, it can leave a big space and after a few days sat on the sofa that space can start to feel a lot like misery and woe.
After all that effort. Don’t just stop. Think about it like your post event cool down. Do something similar, but different and less high intensity. For example, if you’ve been training for a race, fill what was previously your scheduled training sessions with another activity. Whether it’s yoga, gentle walking, or something completely different like painting or drawing, set aside that time to do something specific rather than just allowing your day to expand to fill the gap.
The mental aspect of thinking of this as your “do something” time will help keep the sense of emptiness at bay.
There’s a reason so many people immediately finish a race and then sign up for the next one. That adrenaline and feeling of achievement can be addictive.
Once that big event is over, think about your next challenge. Whether it’s something along the same lines, or something completely different. You don’t have to leap straight into training or total immersion, just decide your challenge, grab a pen and paper, and get planning.
Right now I am reassessing my fitness goals after the end of this Roller Derby season and pencilling in what I’ll be doing in my training plans over the off season in October and in to Christmas.
Immediately after the event you probably treated yourself to a glass of bubbly or a massive chocolate cake or whatever your reward of choice is. If you’ve been training or preparing for something for a long time, don’t let the celebrations stop there!
Take a few days to take stock of your achievement and plan in a few smaller rewards, whether that’s a massage to help deal with those aching muscles, or a nice meal out. Check out the photos from the event. Print them out, stick them on your fridge and share them with your friends. If you’ve been preparing for something for half a year, then these celebrations are more important than Christmas.
Designate the week after the event “Celebration Week” and have yourself a little party.
One of the downsides of the post event slump for me is often anxiety and a nagging feeling that maybe I could have done something better, or it didn’t go as well as I initially thought.
Take some time to deal with that feeling. Talk it through with friends who will understand, think about what you learned from the event. By all means consider what you could do different in future, but don’t allow that to become beating yourself up for not doing it this time. Everything is a learning experience and we should never be afraid to make mistakes. If you don’t have anyone to talk things through then consider writing it down. Write a blog post you’ll never publish, scribble your thoughts in a notebook, or type your thoughts into a Word doc. Putting things in a coherent form can help you focus.
High levels of stress hormones can make you susceptible to illness. After a big event it’s a good idea to plan a bit of downtime. While suddenly spending 4 days on the sofa watching trashy TV might leave you feeling lethargic and blue, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to slow down a little.
Take a half day off work. Go to bed an hour earlier and don’t take on too many social commitments in the week after a big event. You need to allow your body some time to adjust to sudden absence of all those stress hormones that were zooming around and keeping you going.
My plans for this week included finishing early yesterday for a celebratory glass of fizz (or two, or, er, many), lots of early nights, and some time spent planning my upcoming off season training so that I can come back next season fitter, stronger and faster. Plus maybe a little bit of sofa time. I think I’ve earned it.