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What Happens AFTER the Big Race?

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a method to this blog.

Big, epicly long race report, followed by weeks of NOTHING and quiet and beer and falling off the grid.  But really, it’s been nice. Lots of recovery time AND family catch-up time.

Including fancy red-lipsticked Taylor Swift concert with my best girl.




And a birthday party and celebration with my best boy and three of his little buddies.



Yes, I gave myself a week to recover from the race, to drink and eat all the things, and to cut off my race day bracelet.

Then I gave myself another week to apparently repeat and do those things until I felt disgusting.

Oh, and I forgot to post this a few weeks ago – for posterity’s sake. Stella + Scissors = Hair cut:

I forgot to post this a few weeks ago - for posterity's sake. Stella + Scissors = Hair cut.


Yesterday, my body was screaming for rest and vitamins and fiber–which, I thankfully gave it last night and with my smoothie this AM. 🙂  And my TrainingPeaks calendar was FULL again, and I was so glad.  (Even though I internally complained about my swim technique workout this AM… but man, it felt GREAT to be back at it!)

So things I have learned about myself over these last five years in triathlon:

I am happiest when: a) I have a goal; b) I have a schedule; and c) I keep my eyes on both.


The post-race crazy or depression is so very real. I have written about it 100 times by now.  Here and here, for example.

And then there’s the weird side to the depression which makes you sign up for more races.  (Luckily, I already planned my 2016 crazy calendar …so I was locked in for crazy already– and yes, that’s Ironman 70.3 California, Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Chattanooga.)


In setting these goals early, I feel that I didn’t have the depression that usually slams me in the face post-big race.

I already had my plans. I wasn’t floundering. I was like, “Okay, celebrate the great season you had, eat your cookies, drink your beer–but now it’s over and time to get back on the off-season and work hard for next season.”


And I really am GREAT with that.

In fact, I am looking forward to it.  I don’t have the burnout that I thought I would from this season–in fact, the opposite has happened.

I also had a very interesting lead-up to Ironman Louisville–because of the crazy in my life. So I think that I didn’t reach the burnout in training that so many long(er) distance athletes experience.  In fact, my experience in Lou really changed A LOT in the way I am going to approach my training for 2016 (with Coach Brett’s advice and blessing of course.)

So I said I am good if I have a goal and a schedule and I keep my eyes on both.

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I think that may be a big secret to keeping the love alive.

What is the goal?

Goal setting is a huge part of triathlon.  I talk about the Three Tiers of Goal Setting in my book, and it goes something like this.

The tiered approach is basically a three-part triathlon goal management system. Because research has clearly revealed that people like things in threes (swim, bike, run—peanut butter, jelly, bread—salt, tequila, lime—chips, salsa, cheese dip…oh, I better stop now)…anyway, the three tiered goal system is harmonious.


Quick Goal Race

1-3 months  
Main Goal Race 6-12 months
Crazy Goal Race 2-25 years  

The Quick Goal is a race goal with a two-or-three month turnaround. You will want to have several Quick Goals during the year to keep you moving and shaking. Think: fun runs, color runs, 5k or 10ks. And if you are really a fabulous athlete, these could even be half marathons, half irons, marathons or other long distance things.  I like to think of quick goals as things that your current athletic ability (no matter how slow) will allow.

The Main Goal is the big deal race of the year. This is your big race, the semi-scary goal–the “A” race, if you will. Ideally, this would be the end of the season or end of year finale. The Main Goal is the thing that motivates you every day in your training. When people ask you what you are training for, the Main Goal is the race you shout out.

Finally, the Crazy Goal is just that. Cuh-ray-zee. Absolutely huge, mind boggling and seemingly never-gonna-happen.  The thing you dream about when no one is in your head or watching.

So those are the “three tiers” that I think about in a nutshell.

In structuring your “what’s next” plan, these are nice things to think about–stepping stones along with way.


What is the plan?

Once you have identified your goals for the next year (or the next next next year [e.g., the Crazy Goal]), then you have to find a plan to execute these goals.  Do you need a coach? Do you want a coach? Do you need to move on to a new coach? Do you have a good plan if you don’t want a coach?  Do you work better in groups–where a tri club is ideal?

These are great questions to ask yourself in the off-season.

Next, a solid off-season plan is key.

Don’t spend the winter adding pounds and losing fitness (trust me… I have done this EVERY season. Not THIS one, baby!).


Had a nice catch-up with Coach Brett and his wife last weekend too 🙂

How do you keep your eyes on the plan and the goal?

Well, I have a half marathon at Disney in two weeks.

I plan to run some random 5ks – like I did this past weekend. (PR baby… 29:08 on a decently hilly course…  That is speedy for me, folks.)


Lots of fun little things to keep you going.  Staying positive in the off-season and not thinking “there’s always next week.”  The time to start is NOW.  NOW is the secret to staying sane in the off-season and going into the next season with the best version of “you” possible.

Have a great week, friends!

 * * *

Due to requests, we extended the Swim Bike Fuel registration one more today.

TODAY is the last chance to get in on the group in 2015!  Register today (Monday 10/26).



  • David

    October 26, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Wow awesome advice about goal setting and what to do in the off-season!! Thank you very much for all the great information. Love it!! Hope you have a fun time at Disney with your Half Marathon.

  • Holly Byrnes

    October 26, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    See you at Wine and Dine!? 🙂 I can’t wait to eat and drink beer…Wait…that’s not what I’m supposed to say! I can’t wait to PR this puppy..and then eat and drink beer.

  • Darcy

    October 26, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    I’ve struggled with post race blues (depression) after my A race. I found that it helped to plan my next A race (for the next year). However, this year, I dropped out of my A race (125 miles into a 206 mile bike race (after doing the three toughest climbs). What I thought was “bike fit” issues, turned out to be major bulging, torn discs in my back and a SI/hip issue. So, it was a wise decision to drop. Post race I did something completely different…within 38 hours of dropping from the race, my bags were packed and I took off on a three day hiking adventure with a group of friends to Sun Valley, Idaho. A couple of the friends were slower hikers than I normally am, but they ended up being the perfect pace for me (post race). And for the first time, I didn’t deal with post race blues. It was just ideal for me…surrounded by 18 friends, doing something active but on my casual pace, and with this group of friends we eat healthy when we’re together. And I still don’t have my A race planned for next year…it’s hard to plan for next year when I don’t have medical clearance to bike or run.

  • Ed C.

    October 26, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    Love the 3 tier idea and plan to use it. I dealt with the post race depression more than ever this year. I have now found my base plan for the off season and am a lot happier now. My wife is supportive and even suggested I take my bike for a quick getaway this last weekend because she knows it makes me happier. Great posts and I’m in awe that you are tackling two IM’s again next year.

  • Lisa

    October 27, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Hi Love your blog. I did my first sprint tri this year after years of marathons and halfs and weight training. I’m enrolled in Swim Bike Fuel..very excited I can’t wait. I have added 20 lbs to my very small 5’2 after doing three figure competitions 2 years ago. My goal is to do another sprint next year along with an oly and then a goal of HIM in 2017.

  • Jessica

    October 27, 2015 at 10:22 am

    That moment when your crazy goal becomes your “A” race. Yeah – that’s finally me!!! Bought your book two years ago and it has been a great support in my journey 🙂 Thanks SBM!!

  • flybigd

    October 27, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Half marathons are the best. Enough distance to be a challenge, but not long enough to destroy your conditioning. And these days you get a medal! Back in the 90s when I ran we didn’t even get medals for the half! (and get off my lawn kids)

  • KT

    October 27, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Wow, I definitely needed this. I finished my first 70.3 a couple of weeks ago, and have been finding it difficult to find the motivation to get going again, especially because I may be taking next season off to hopefully start a family. I am registered for a couple of small races, but after focusing so hard on my 70.3 for a year straight, nothing else seems all that important! Guess it’s time to get over it, set a few small attainable goals for my “off year” next year, and get moving!

  • cherylann

    October 27, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    I never went into a depression after my IMs or 70.3s as I had to get back to work the next day and the routine of work and family continued-
    I just completed my season and I am still training daily- for nothing specifically, just because I love to and want to and know it makes me more productive and feel awesome. Planning my 2016 year for sure keeps me going… will be year #34 for me.

  • Kayla

    October 30, 2015 at 3:06 am

    Will you do another Swim Bike Fuel in the new year? I am moving internationally, starting a new job, a root canal and finding a new home etc. So it just doesn’t make sense right now as I can’t fully participate…

  • Anita Kilpatrick

    November 9, 2015 at 6:14 am

    I have read and followed you during my training for IM Florida. Your blog and insights and just real life truthful perspective has been inspiring. I was a DNF at the race and devastated. So much sacrifice, financially, time from kids , mentally…… Just crushing. Any stories or words from some of your followers that might experienced this? Just wondering….
    Thanks for your great blog. Love the stories.

    • Swim Bike Mom

      November 9, 2015 at 10:37 am

      Hi Anita… I am so sorry to hear about IMFL 🙁 I will give this some thought and maybe write a post about it. I have been so close (timing wise) to DNF on two of my IM’s, so I certainly can relate. 🙂


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