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Back on track: Overcoming the post achievement blues

Updated: Jul 25, 2021

Following on from a previous article on motivation we had a lot of messages and feedback from athletes identifying themselves as being in slump. And the group with the most inquiries asking how they can get their motivation levels back?

Age Group Kona Qualifiers. I kid you not. It sounds ridiculous that after all the hard work, investment and planning to achieve their qualification, you find many with their motivation going missing a few months out. How is this possible?

It is totally normal to go into a psychological low after after obtaining a goal one has planned for years trying to achieve. The euphoria post-race in Ironman typically lasts about 72 hours – when we are mentally on a high, but the body is physically tired. As the mental buzz wears off to be more closely aligned with how our body feels, there is often an extreme feeling of emptiness.

Solution? There is no solution. Over 30 years I’ve had 20+ world champions go through the exact same thing. After achieving major milestones high performance athletes are warned of the oncoming wave of felling like: ‘I’m done now’.

Why? Because they are done. And recognizing this is the key to overcoming it. Once you have attained a goal you must compartmentalise it and say ‘that is done’. I’ll now start something new. Too many age group athletes having achieved their goal of ‘making it’ and qualifying to the Big Island, try to mentally ride their post-race achievement high to the race. Instead they are dumped into mental funk hole that is so deep they can’t see a way out of it.

To these people my advice is this: Stop, recalibrate, begin a new adventure. Even now it is not too late. Draw a line under what you have done, give yourself a little pat on the back and take this weekend easy to relax. View Monday as the first day of getting mentally and physically back on the job.

The good news is that despite hype, the reality is that Kona on a good day is one of the easier races on the circuit. It’s why so many Europeans go there and have great first time races. Because while everyone else are suffering from Kona-itis, they play the conditions and the course for the reality. So if you have already qualified for Kona – you have nothing much to worry about, but much to look forward to. Bring it on.

Life Gets In The Way We also have a second group of Kona quali!ers suffering the qualification blues: Those that since the time of qualifying have had life circumstances change which have made training difficult. I’ve had to take on a new job which has given me no time ... Kids and I are moving house in the middle of August! ... I’ve got an injury, but I’ve already booked the !ight and hotel so won’t be at my best ...

My advice for those who have lost motivation because of any of the above ‘catastrophes’ is less sympathetic. It’s time again for bathroom mirror treatment: Give yourself a good slap.

You’re off to one of the most beautiful places in the world, participating in one of sport’s most unique events that you worked your ring off to get to. The last time I checked the prizes for age groupers were not million dollar cheques, but sunburn and a finisher’s medal. Wake up! You have proven you can make the distance; it might not be your fastest race, but it may be one of the best experiences of your lifetime. Understand and embrace your circumstance. Relax, enjoy and appreciate how lucky you are.

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