Well, if I thought my depression after the Whistler Ironman was a one-off, I now know I was wrong. The post-race blues are a real thing, and they’re terrible.
“I hate everything,” I said to my daughter on the phone yesterday. “Even the things I normally love, I hate. All I want to do is lie in bed in a dark room.”
It’s not just me. She feels exactly the same way.
In fact, when I Googled Post-Ironman Depression, a long list of articles came up. After the race is over, it feels like a loss. In fact, it feels like an addiction that you’re trying to kick cold-turkey and you suddenly find yourself in withdrawal. Apparently, the hormones that are stimulated by intense exercise are also the ones that, when you don’t have enough of them, cause depression. So, it’s no surprise that we’re feeling like this now that our fifteen to twenty hours per week of training have suddenly diminished to zero. No more endorphins, no more scheduling long rides, no more visualizing the finish line. It’s over. We’re done. Time to move on.
No wonder Ironman offers discounts a few days after the race. They know how to hit us at a weak moment.
The one thing I can’t do is throw myself back into training. My body is still tired. I’ve been to the pool a few times and had to drag myself through the water. What I really want to do is go for a run (surprising after that crap marathon I had), but I know I shouldn’t. So, I’m holding off, trying to concentrate on work and being a normal human and not curling up in a dark corner and eating ice cream.
It’s a weird combination of emptiness and purposelessness—and it’s the closest I ever come to true depression. This time I even expected it and thought, forewarned is forearmed. Nope. Makes no difference. I still feel like trash.
I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe I just have to put my head down and power through, know that there’s an end to this somewhere and I will feel better. It helps just knowing that this is something everyone goes through.
In the meantime, I’m binge-watching The White Lotus and catching up on the social time I’d denied myself before the race for fear of catching Covid. Those things are good.
Off-season training is coming. This too shall pass.