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How to Overcome Post Race Depression

iStock_000013619912XSmallThe completion of Ironman Arizona all but marks the end of long course racing here in North America for the year. This time of year often brings a slump into people’s lives as they’ve completed all their multisport races for the year and sometimes don’t know what to do with themselves now.

Long course racing is an all encompassing ordeal. From the time that you start training, whether that be 3 months, 6 months or a year, your life starts to revolve around your next workout. Your family, friends and co-workers know what you’re aiming for. They’re impressed and ask how training is going, how many miles you rode over the weekend and how they don’t know how anyone can do something like this. You and your training become the center of attention and it begins to define you. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that except for the fact that the day will come when the race is over and you’ll need something else to focus your time and effort towards. Trying to keep the “Ironman High” for as long as possible helps but eventually it will fade, life won’t be as exciting as it once was and everything around you starts to look a little more dull. This can be a really dark time as you try and refocus your day-to-day purpose. Below I’ve written up a couple of good ways to get past those “Ironman Blues” and be a happier healthier endurance athlete through the winter months.

  1. Volunteer – There’s no better way to appreciate the ability and blessing that we have to race than to give back to the racing community. Winter is a great time for running races and they need volunteers as much as triathlons do. Contact your local race director and ask how you can help. Hand out water, put medals on finishers or simply go and cheer people on. This is a great way to bring the excitement back for racing. As a bonus some race directors will even give you free entry into a future race for your volunteering efforts
  2. Have a Post-Race Plan – One big mistake that I made going into my first Ironman was not having a plan for what I was going to do after the race. Once I got back home to my job and didn’t have anything to do before or after work I felt a bit lost. Too much idle time leaves one with too many opportunities to sit and think. The final weeks leading up to an big race is full of travel planning, finishing up projects at work packing unpacking, repacking but taking just a few minutes to think about your post race plan will set you up for and easier transition back to “normal” life. Which brings us to…
  3. Keep Busy – You’ve definitely earned a break from training for a little while but staying busy will keep your mind from wondering to how you might feel that there’s a hole in your life. This busy work doesn’t have to be noble. My personal favorite way to fill the extra hours is to catch up on movies. Chances are that you’ve missed out on some great movies that have come out that all your friends have seen but you missed because you had an early ride the next day.
  4. Reconnect – During Ironman training it’s quite likely that you’ve neglected many things: family, friends, chores around the house, etc. Now is your chance to reconnect with friends that you haven’t seen for a while, take your spouse or significant other out on a date, go to the park with your kids or fix that clogged drain.
  5. Move On – You’ll always be an Ironman but there are more things to accomplish in both your personal and racing life. Pick a new goal whether that be to learn a language, play an instrument or another race. Take the effort, focus, energy and enthusiasm that you put into Ironman training and point it in another worthwhile direction.


Coach Patrick
USAT Level I


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