Post-race depression? Breaking the cycle

I wonder if I’m onto something.

athlete bike black and white cycle

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve been experiencing a general lack of motivation for many months that has had a serious impact on my ability to train.

At least that is what I thought until a few days ago. I was on my way to my therapist, who I’ve been going to now for a few months to help me figure out what to do about my bouts of anxiety and low mood. I have spent the last few months telling her about almost anything but my lack of motivation regarding sport. I’m sure I mentioned it a couple of times as a passing comment but not much more. While driving to my appointment, I was thinking about what the topic of this next session should be. And I thought maybe it was time to talk about my lack of motivation, as evidenced by my almost complete lack of desire to swim, bike, and run.

It was that last sentence that got me thinking. I’m not lacking motivation in general. I don’t lack motivation regarding my work, for example. I don’t lack motivation to go to my personal training sessions at the gym. I actually enjoy going to see Tom, partially because I like the challenge and I like feeling strong, and partially because he’s funny and makes me laugh, albeit usually at myself. Tom, for example, thought it was absolutely HILARIOUS that I’d like to work as a bodyguard. I think it’s hilarious that he thinks it’s hilarious. I’ll show you yet, Tom!

Back to depression.

That very short inner discussion made me realize that I’m not lacking motivation generally. There is something inside of me that has become very anti-triathlon.

I’m still not sure why that is, exactly. I have a few theories. But as I work on figuring out why I don’t want to swim, cycle and run, I have started realizing that I am more than happy to go regularly to the gym to do almost anything but. I discovered that I’m even more than happy to go to spin classes. I just do NOT want to go sit on any of the indoor bikes and do my own training session. I found that I’m sort of all right doing a run on the treadmill….sort of. But I absolutely will NOT step out of my house to go on a run. I also cannot for the life of me make myself jump into the pool for a few laps of swimming. But I will do a body pump class. And I will go on a five-hour hike.

So for now I’m going to run with this. I’ve booked myself some classes at the gym. It’s all very random. I’ve been waking up in the morning, checking online to see what classes are available, and then I book whatever catches my fancy for that day or the next. I want to keep keeping fit. I just don’t want to have to do that by running, cycling and swimming.

So here’s what I’m wondering about that.

I had read long before I did my Ironman last September about post-Ironman blues. It sounded ridiculous to me, to be honest. But I read enough posts about it to be convinced that it obviously happens to some people and I needed to take the necessary precautions to make sure it didn’t happen to me.

I still think I did take the right necessary precautions.

But I also think that between everything that has happened in my personal life since then, and whatever post-race emotional and physical/physiological changes I’ve had, it has all combined together to put me in an emotional state that feels much worse than the last few years.

I sort of want to blame post-race depression on whole mood change this year, to be honest. Maybe it’s easier to do that than to blame a build-up of a few major and many minor traumas over the course of a lifetime. But I can’t help but wonder if whatever emotional/physiological changes that have happened within me after a year of Ironman training have had an effect on my ability to deal with (or repress?) the rest of life’s difficulties.

I think post-race depression might have something to do with my mood changes this year anyways, and I plan on exploring that further with my therapist.

I think my current problem with triathlon is that I’m fed up with the competition/race mindset. I just want to “be”. I just want to do what I need to do in order to be healthy and fit. I don’t want to be “in training” for something. All that was fine last year. But this year I get very anxious at the thought of “training”.

So I’m going to break the cycle. I’m teaching myself that it’s fine if I don’t want to swim/bike/run. It’s also fine if I don’t want to sign up for more races. And it’s fine not to have some sort of wild and crazy event planned for a few months ahead. I can just “be”. I’m going to try my best to use the time to see if there are other things I might be interested in learning or doing.

Breaking that cycle is not as easy as it sounds. I have intense feelings of guilt about not training. I think that’s partially because I’ve surrounded myself, both physically and virtually, with amateur athletes who can be rather obsessed with their training and their events. I myself have been obsessed with my training and my events. Now I need to shut down that obsession because I can see it (and lots of other stuff) is making me unhealthy. Sport should never make you feel unhealthy.

Anyway, I think I’m onto something. Watch this space.

Update (Aug 1): I have mentioned this to my therapist. What I understood is that she thinks it’s possible that, because of the need to focus completely on training, I had no space in my head or in my life last year to think about the things that were actually happening around me. Once the training and race were done, I suddenly had all this space and time to think about it all and it all came crashing down. She didn’t give too much time to discussing the training side of things and instead guided the discussion elsewhere (back to life’s actual difficulties).

 

 

Advertisements

3 comments

  1. And it’s fine not to have some sort of wild and crazy event planned for a few months ahead. I can just “be”. I’m going to try my best to use the time to see if there are other things I might be interested in learning or doing.
    I have the same problem a few years back with motivation and running. My advice is do not try to fill the time just let it be and do something on the spur of the moment at least for a while.
    If you fill that time with something planned, your just swapping the subject and the cycle begin’s all over.
    Good luck and enjoy doing thinks not planned.
    For me the quality of my life improved by not having a goal to complete every time, just to be and enjoy the moment for what it is.
    George.

    1. Thanks, George. That’s exactly the plan and what I think will work best for me right now. Fingers crossed!

  2. Update: I have mentioned this to my therapist. What I understood is that she thinks it’s possible that, because of the need to focus completely on training, I had no space in my head or in my life last year to think about the things that were actually happening around me. Once the training and race were done, I suddenly had all this space and time to think about it all and it all came crashing down. She didn’t give too much time to discussing the training side of things and instead guided the discussion elsewhere (back to life’s actual difficulties).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s