Let me explain: You train for an event...a 10k. A marathon. An Ironman or Half-Ironman. Fitness competition of some sort.
You taper, conduct your event, and have a post-race cheat meal. Life is good.
Now what? Resume your standard training regimen? Take some time off?
Let me offer this suggestion to you - do another race. What? I just did a race. You're crazy.
Not the next day mind you, but a week later - or two weeks later. Pick a shorter race than the one you trained for and have fun with it. Enjoy the competition. Have fun.
For example, if you trained for a Half-Ironman, you put some serious hours preparing for the race, but once you recover from that race, all of that fitness that you gained didn't just disappear. It's there, so why not use it!? Run a 10k. Run a 5k. Do an Olympic distance triathlon.
I recently completed what was probably my 80th + Army Physical Fitness Test a couple of weeks ago. I did just fine on it, especially considering that I took it by myself. As I prepared for the APFT, I ran a lot of intervals to dial in my pace for the 2-mile run.
I took the test on Friday. On Monday, I wanted to see if I could run a 21-minute 3-miler...a decent standard for a 225-pound Army dude. You know what? It was pretty easy...I ran relaxed and enjoyed the mini-challenge I had set for myself following the APFT. I also knocked out 20+ pull-ups because I had been doing a lot of pull-ups and wanted to assess where my max effort was at, another fun challenge to see what my hard work had produced.
My example is on the absolute micro-scale.
While there may be exceptions to what I'm suggesting (a full IM will take some time to recover from before you dive into your next event), I think too often we train for a specific event and then just return to our "normal" training without trying to fully capitalize on the hard work we've put in over the last 2-3 months.
As you begin your training for whatever "big" event you're training for this summer, I encourage you to look a couple of weeks beyond it and see if you can find another race or two - on the smaller scale - and just go out and have fun and see what you can accomplish with the pressure of your big race in your rearview mirror.
Train hard! Have fun!
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