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I’m addicted to logging my workouts. I blame Lyell. I started PATHFINDER in Class 008. Prior to that, I just “worked out.” I rucked, I lifted, I ran, I swam, I did yoga – it was uncomplicated. Then, I was finally brave enough to sign up for PATHFINDER and started logging. Recording my workouts gave me validation, made me organized, held me accountable to someone other than myself. In those days, there was a month-long break between classes, and I felt lost. It was strange as even though I kept doing the exact same workouts, the fact they didn’t count for something made them less important in my mind. Whew, thank goodness that archaic time has passed and we now roll from one PATHFINDER Class right into another!
I use this personal truth as an introduction to the topic of “what’s next.” As we train for an epic event like a 50-mile ruck, we need to be aware of post-achievement letdown or depression. This is common after you have spent months focused on one goal, and suddenly that goal is gone. This is a real issue, with many articles written about it, some of which I have read and posted below. I have experienced this to some extent as well, which is likely one reason I have many GORUCK patches on my patch board.
If you’re prone to this type of post achievement let down, spending some time (perhaps while rucking) examining the “why” of it is important. Is it because the training gave you purpose and organization? Is it because the achievement was important to your self-worth? Did the event have emotional significance to you that was separate from just the physical portion? Did regular exercise help combat stress and anxiety in your life? Identifying the "why" helps a lot to determine the next steps.
As I was studying for my yoga teacher certification, we spent a lot of time talking about being present in the now, not worrying about the past or the future. We also spoke a lot about letting go of the outcome. I’ll shorten 200 hours of training for you, and be specific to our chosen outlet. If we can learn to enjoy just rucking, or getting friends together for a workout, regardless of the goal, we are happier. One way to combat post-event let down is to remain focused on the present and the process. Just because you finish 50 miles doesn’t mean you stop rucking, or stop interacting with your PATHFINDER Class, or stop joining your local ruck club for outings. All of that is still there, in the present! Even if you don’t sign up for another event, stay connected with the parts of the training that benefited you.
Many people will combat these doldrums by finding a new goal to work towards. I fall into that category. I absolutely function best when I have a goal. My husband is the opposite. He easily gets up at 5 am for workouts, with no event or race on the horizon. For me, completing PATHFINDER has been a big goal, and most Rosters can tell stories of excessive work they have done in the last week of a Class in order to finish! I now automatically sign up for the next PATHFINDER class, as I know that motivation is good for me. Many of us will sign up for another big event, whether it’s rucking, OCR or running. However, that next goal could also be organizing a charity ruck in your town, starting a ruck club, or another non-physical goal. Knowing why you may have post-achievement let down is important to know how best to combat it.
As with all things, awareness is huge and prevention is better than treatment. Know that post-achievement depression is a thing. It’s normal. It’s something we welcome a conversation about. While we will absolutely preach about adequate recovery after your event, we also want to see you right back at it, interacting with our great community and enjoying the mental and physical benefits of rucking. Also, remember it’s ok to get together with rucking friends just to eat pizza and hang out. Friendships born out of suffering can continue to exist in comfort!