TL DR - I used to love training, but since doing an Ironman in July, I don't feel any sense of enjoyment when exercising. I've never felt such little motivation to train before. Anyone else experienced this? Any advice?
(Please excuse the length of this. I just need to vent...)
The other day, I set off for a run, planning to cover at least 8 miles. The weather was ideal so I intended to follow one of my favourite routes. But only 2 miles in I realised I was not enjoying myself. I just thought, "this isn't fun". I tried plodding for another half mile before stopping, turning around, and walking home. I wasn't injured or tired in any way. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, I just didn't feel like running.
This may not sound like much of a big deal. I understand many folk don't run for fun, but this feels so odd to me. I love running. However, recently I have been making excuses to avoid putting on my trainers. And when I have gone out, whatever the distance, I just feel indifferent to it now. The sense of achievement just isn't there.
I have always signed up to different events, to provide a focus and reason for training. I started with a couple of obstacle races which gave me the taste to seek bigger challenges. After reading about Ironman racing in 2012, I immediately dismissed the idea as an absolute impossibility. But I was inspired to find out more about multi sport racing. I taught myself to swim by watching youtube videos, I bought a wrecked second hand road bike, and I started signing up for longer running events. After three years, I had completed two open water swim events, two marathons and two standard triathlons. I had also invested in a decent new road bike and joined a tri club. Many of the members of this club were Ironman finishers, and I thought they were super-humans! They coached, advised and encouraged me right up to the start line of Ironman UK 2016. And when I eventually got to the finish chute and heard the words, "You are an Ironman", I felt like I could accomplish anything.
Once the buzz and thrill of my achievement started to fade, I started thinking, 'what next?' So I signed up for something else I once thought was impossible; a 50 mile ultramarathon. And this is what I should be training for just now. I should be out running, racking up the miles, getting stronger and fitter in preparation for a huge physical and mental challenge that is only a few months away.
But I can't be bothered.
I hate saying those words, I hate acknowledging my piss-poor attitude. But I have to be honest. I signed up for the ultra without really knowing why I wanted to do such an event. I just wanted to keep riding the wave of excitement and motivation that carried me around the Ironman course. But instead, whenever I go for a swim or cycle or run, I just think, 'meh'. (Especially when running, even though it is my first and strongest discipline).
And so I am now backsliding, losing my strength and fitness, losing the skills and ability to swim, bike and run as well as I should. As a result, I have been avoiding training with my club. I don't want to them about it for some reason. It just seems shameful. Most of them have completed multiple Iron distance races and ultramarathons, all while juggling work and home lives that are far more stressful and complicated than mine. I genuinely feel I would rather anonymously turn to strangers on a forum than speak with my trusted club mates.
So, I guess what I'm asking is, is this normal? Has anyone had similar experiences? Does anyone have any advice? It feels like I'm losing something that I considered to be a massive part of my identity and it is quite upsetting.
I expect to hear many cyclists try to remind me of rule 5....
HI. I've sent you a personal message.
I hope you have found a way to move forward since your original post. In case you haven't or are still not where you want to be, see my suggestions below.
If I was you, the first thing I would do is ask myself, "what will I get by achieving my ultramarathon goal and what will it allow me to do?". Often we feel unmotivated to achieve goals when there is no clear purpose beyond the goal. [Our unconscious mind sabotages our progress to protect us from not having any purpose after achieving the goal]. In your case, your unconscious mind may be protecting you from no longer having that sense of achievement you get from running if you were to achieve your ultramarathon goal.
Once you have answered the above questions hopefully you will rediscover your motivation to achieve your ultramarathon goal. If not, you may want to sit down and ask yourself "what is important to me about my training?". For example, it may be things like the sense of achievement you get and the love you have running.
Keep going until you have an exhaustive list and then rank the items on the list in order of importance. From there, reconsider exactly what you want to achieve and you will then be ready to set a goal which motivates and inspires you.
You are not the only person to have experienced such feelings. This will pass. Let me know how you get on.
Jon and Gavin,
Thanks for taking the time to read my post, and thank you even more for responding. I really appreciate the advice. I took stock of my training goals and why they matter to me, before re-writing some of them to be a bit more realistic!
I withdrew from the ultra-marathon, and instantly felt better. I have instead chosen to volunteer at a similar event as a race marshal, which I am really looking forward to. Theres no pressure on me to train for that! I'll take a short break from triathlon and big events for this year and plan to come back next season with a better attitude.
Thanks for your help.
All the best.
Liz from 220 here. Would you be able to drop me a line when you get a sec please? email@example.com.
One thing that helped me was changing my approach to training significantly - by getting a coach. I found it a bit dull and repetitive to go through the motions, following a purchased training plan or just going out for the sake of it.
Having a coach gave me a sense of purpose, someone to talk to about why you're doing it. What you're training for. When things have gone well, or not well... it's a sounding board and ultimately a friend.
It might not be for everyone and there is obviously a cost involved, but for me it's really changed things. I've also got a lot faster and fitter too!
I did write a blog post about it a while ago - http://tritriagain.uk/lost-mojo-saved-coach/ - it sort of echoes your views in many ways!
Newbie triathlete, serial researcher - tritriagain