By Danny Bellmore
Training intensity ramps up and is at the highest point as a given meet approaches. The intensity has remained high for a few months (with appropriate deloads!) as the body grows tired, tattered, and somewhat beat up. Years and months of hard training boiled down to one day, and nine potential opportunities to showcase all your hard work and effort. This culmination of effort is the critical point that the mind begins to reassess preparation, it becomes easy to go into overload and overthink the meet preparation as a whole. Win or lose….a PR (maybe more than one!), or even broken records, some people just go into varying states of depression with the post meet blues.
Once the competition is done, there is an enormity of things to consider internally. You may ask yourself – What is next? Is there a next? Where do I go from here? The body is customarily beaten and the mind is fried from pushing through pain, a rite of passage that meet prep inherently carries. There can be some self-doubt and fundamental questions like, “Is competing for me anymore?” persistently flood the conscious and subconscious mind. For me, what I specifically go through after a meet is much of the same. The different thoughts scramble through my head of what’s next for me, or if there is even going to be a next.
Jason Kowalewski wearing the unisex 10/20/Classic T-shirt
I have learned that bulling through often becomes in disastrous. The mind is never fresh, or reset, my injuries never seem to go away, and they have an interesting way of capturing my attention at opportune and inopportune times.
Here are some strategies I have found advantageous:
- I take some time off from the gym…completely. Now, I don’t dwell on the past meet, or focus on any future meets. I simply place my thoughts and training into a neutral position.
- I refocus on something else for some time. I will start a project, or simply get things done around the house. The aim is to refocus until I get my head right. The saying is “An idle brain is the devil’s workshop.”
- Don’t let your peers dictate what you should do. You will find that almost everyone has expert advice for you. These people have no clue how you feel and what is going through your mind. Hell, most of these people can’t manage their sock drawer, but insist they know what’s best for you… and they are always so willing to share. Respect personal boundaries people!
- When I do start back up, the reactivation is a very slow process. I take as much time as needed to get back into the swing of things. The body and mind with tell you when you’re ready to ramp up.
- Be careful who you confide in. You will find 90% of the people out there could care less how you feel. If you feel like you need to talk to someone about things, do not open up to someone that will use it against you at a later date. I have found I say very little because you really can’t trust anyone.
- Even if you are feeling great after the meet and are ready to hit the ground running, take some time off. A week at minimum. The high from the meet will dwindle and realism will set in. The body must settle and the mind must recover. If anything, the time off the gym will spike your motivation even more. If my lifting career has taught me anything, it’s that rushing things never ends well.
Always do what is right for you and put you first. People that know and respect you will understand your decisions to back off, or go full steam ahead. The ones who want to sit back and judge you really are meaningless to your life – so rid yourself of them. That’s called addition by subtraction!