My Ironman Triathlon Training Anxiety has set in.
For anybody who is tracking my personal Ironman Triathlon training I have just completed week 17 of training for Ironman Santa Rosa 2017. That included my first official century of this training plan which was sort of brutal if I’m honest.
Pre-race dreams about Ironman Triathlon are something fairly common at least among new Ironman athletes. They hit me totally unexpectedly when I was training for my first Ironman but when I finally screwed up the courage to talk to my training buddies they all admitted that they had them and instead it became something we joked about together.
I do experience Ironman dreams. My anxiety dreams follow a pretty traditional pattern of anxiety dreams. People who are drawn to Ironman Training tend to be very highly motivated people so you may have experienced them in some form or another throughout your life.
A few things to know about Ironman Triathlon Training Anxiety Dreams
Ironman anxiety dreams are common. In fact, anxiety dreams in general are normal. They are even on wikipedia. . Follow any Ironman training forum or Facebook group and you should find people chatting about their dreams of skipping the bike leg or completing the race in bizarre apparel. I read a story once of a woman training for Ironman and planning her wedding and she kept dreaming she did the swim in her wedding dress.
Ironman anxiety dreams can be extremely vivid dreams. In my experience, I feel like I’m actually experiencing the anxiety during the dream and so I wake up scared and have trouble going back to sleep. I really need my sleep and this is what creates the problem.
I find the dreams to be helpful to figure out what part of my training (or lack of training) is stressing me out. So for Ironman France I had travel related dreams, swim related dreams and bike related dreams. If I remember correctly my travel dreams were opening the bike box and there was no bike – or I opened the bike box and my beloved bike was broken. The wwim dream was funny because in the middle of the swim (in the water) I suddenly realized I had no goggles and I didn’t remember the french word for goggles to ask the lifeguard. The other bike dreams were flat tire related also around not knowing the french words and being unable to change a flat.
When you wake up and think about the dreams they can be kind of funny. I think it helps to share them with people you trust who are fellow triathletes and can support you and maybe laugh with you.
In future races the dreams would change up but the pattern is the same. Whatever I’m worried about shows up in my dream.
So, what am I dreaming about these days as I prep for Ironman Santa Rosa?
I am dreaming about not being ready. My big fear with this race is that I’m not doing what I’m supposed to. Not swimming enough, not racing enough, not riding hard enough, not running enough. So, my dreams are about not being ready. Arriving at the house unpacked, or without a suitcase stuff like that. I am also dreaming about being last. This one is pretty funny because I am going with a group of people who are much faster than me. So that’s a given – they should all finish before me.
Also, and this is sort of new, I worried a lot about results for Ironman France because I didn’t want to let my family down. My top concern was just to finish. This go around I feel like people are watching for my result. (Reality check: they probably aren’t). In the past I’ve felt kind of anonymous which I enjoyed. It was just me against me. But this year I’m president of my triathlon club and I’m a coach so my athletes are watching me. I have to keep reminding myself that those two changes don’t suddenly make me any different than I was before. I am still a middle-aged, middle-of-the-pack triathlete who can smile all the way through a race.
As I prep for Ironman number 6 in Santa Rosa I find the arrival of the dreams to be reassuring. It means I’m on my way to the race. But they still totally mess up my sleep. I’m a light sleeper anyway and one thing Ironman triathletes need a lot of is sleep. So, this is a problem for me.
Tips to get better rest while training for Ironman Triathlon
- Keep to a schedule. I try to get to bed between 8-9 each night.
- No alcohol before bed. That helps with good sleep and avoiding crazy dreams.
- Review your training schedule and prepare for the next day.
- Don’t skip the workouts. Honestly, if I know I’m doing my workouts I’m less likely to freak out. If I’m skipping workouts pretty much nothing helps the anxiety except doing the workouts.
Sleep reality tip
Now I admit that if I have a couple of sleepless nights in a row I will take a sleep aid. When I was training for France I got the go ahead from my doctor to do this because we knew what was causing the sleeplessness and it was a temporary situation. I don’t recommend this for you but you can talk to your doctor if you are really having trouble sleeping. I am of course not a doctor.
How about you?
What kind of sleeper are you? Can you sleep anywhere? Do you suffer from anxiety dreams? Have you ever taken a sleep aid to help you get much needed sleep?