Jen Rulon

Is the Triathlon Post Race Day Blues Real?

Those words will be ingrained in your head: “You. Are. An. Ironman.” You accomplished what you have been training for, for the last year. You go to bed after that long day and wake up sore, tired, sunburned, smiling from ear to ear, and happy. You did an Ironman (or a 70.3 Ironman).

A week later, you are READY! You are ready to get back into the swing of things. There are things that you need to improve going into the next race or new season. You are prepared to tackle your weaknesses: Do more yoga, add strength (duh!), and get a power meter. BAM. The alarm goes off at 5:00 am. Snooze. A week later, the alarm went off again at 5:00 am. Snooze. Four weeks later, you can’t get out of bed for a workout, you don’t want to see your bike, you HATE the smell of chlorine, and your running shoes are still in your race bag. Sound familiar?

It has been talked about before, but you probably have the “Ironman Race Day Blues.” It is out there. It is real. Think about other HUGE events in your life: Graduating from college, the day after your wedding day, or coming home from your honeymoon. People can get sad after a HUGE event is done. It is the unknown of what to do next. Today, I came up with:

“Five Tips to Get Rid of Ironman Race Day Blues”

1. Journal about your race

  • Write about the good, the bad, and the ugly. What did you LOVE about this race? Why? I also have done many VLOGS before and do them at the race site, as I am SO stoked about the whole race.
  • Break down your race, and write it out (Pre-Race/Swim and T1/Bike and T2/Run/Post-Race). This is ALWAYS good to have to go into your next race.
  • Click HERE for my Ironman Hawaii Part DEUX Vlog. It gives you an idea of what I chat about on my vlog.

2. Let the Body Recover

  • Take time to let your body heal and recover. You just did an Ironman (70.3 IM), for heaven’s sake!
  • Physiologically, your body must repair the muscles and the joints. In our muscles, we have actin and myosin filaments and Z Disk. Check out this photo from my “Physiology of Sport and Exercise,” by Jack H. Wilmore et al., of a runner before and after running a marathon. Those filaments and Z Disk are all over the place, and they need to heal and get back to photo A.
  • Some people can jump in after two weeks (70.3 IM). Others can jump in after four weeks (Ironman). This depends on the athlete and how “hard” the effort was for the athlete’s race.

3. Take a Vacation and Indulge

  • I call these “Race-Cations.” You do a race, and after the race, you travel to the area where you are. Example: After Ironman Coeur d’Alene, Chris and I went over to Glacier National Park. (I highly recommend this).
  • At this time, you indulge: You have a mimosa for breakfast. You eat waffles, eggs, and bacon with a TON of syrup. You have a beer in the middle of the afternoon. You enjoy yourself and eat what you want for a week.
  • Race band still on? Keep it on for a whole week. Heck, keep it on for two weeks! This will remind you to enjoy those two weeks. You did something pretty special. I will cut mine off a week from the time I cross the finish line. Time to move on :) (I know, OCD!)

4. Is Your Season done? Try something different.

  • The mountain bike is looking pretty lonely.

  • Flexibility. Yoga? Stronger? Strength Training!

  • If your season is done, I recommend taking an entire month off from swimming, cycling and running. Yep. Enjoy it. Please come back CRAVING those exercises again.

5. Sign up for Another Race

  • One of the best ways to get rid of the race day blues is to sign up for another, BUT make sure you have recovered enough to tackle your next one.
  • If you did an early season 70.3 IM, maybe you will do a mid-season 70.3 IM to get ready for your Ironman Triathlon. That is a LONG year; if you are not feeling “recovered,” take the time for yourself. Your primary race is YOUR IRONMAN.
  • Try a “fun” race. 5k Run. 10k Run. Super Sprint Triathlon. Change it up. Do a race after your primary race and remember why you started doing triathlons: Because they were fun!

Remember, you are not going crazy. You are going through something very normal, and that is ok. Embrace the downtime. Enjoy it; your body will thank you. Take care of yourself, your family, and your life. You spent a year getting ready for this Ironman or 70.3 IM, and now it is time to look at your medal and smile with a cheerful heart!

Has anyone had the “Race Day Blues?” How did you deal with it? What did you do? Post a comment below. We would LOVE to hear from you!



AUTHOR: Jen Rulon

I have been coaching triathletes, runners, and cyclists for over 21+ years; I received my Master's Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. And as you may have learned, there is more to life than swimming, biking, and running. It is a lifestyle, and I am here to help you cross that finish line with a smile, whether it is an Ironman Triathlon or the Ironman of Life. You can find my knowledge shared in Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Southwest Research Institute Human Performance Summit, Training Peaks Workshops, "Self Motivation Strategies for Women" on Amazon, Men's Journal Online, and the New York Times. I also practice what I preach—she's a 15x Ironman Triathlete who participated in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, on October 14, 2017.

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