Posted by: pursuingsub17 | August 22, 2009

Dealing with post race depression


Okay, I’m not really depressed. It’s more that typical “what now?” feeling an athlete gets after the last big race of the season. I’d been feeling a little anxiety during the week and I was sure it’s because I’m worried my boss is going to tell me it’s getting too busy and I can’t go to Marc’s race in Penticton but that’s only part of it.

I’ve been picturing my marathon race in my head and I wish I had another race to do. Not because I think I did poorly. I did great. I just miss the rush of being out there, competing with other racers, competing against my own time, and successfully battling “bonk” to get that morale boost and adrenelin rush to surge forward to the finish line. That was my biggest battle – overcoming that point of exhaustion where you are ready to quit. I’ve heard of a lot of runners who just say “nope. not today” with only 8 or 5 k to go. It’s a tough point and it takes all of your mental will power to tell yourself you’re not quitting, you’re not going to be satisfied with walking the rest of the way, you’re not going to be satisfied with 10 to 20 minutes off your goal time. That’s a breaking point and I won the personal battle. Now – when I should be thankful I have no more long training runs and I can have my life back, I just want to sign up for another race!

Last night my friend was in a local dragon boat race so I headed out to watch her. I had to drive down that last 10k stretch and saw the road block signs and pylons still sitting on the side of the road from last Sunday’s race and I felt a little pang of sadness. Sigh. It’s over. Driving back on that same route 4 hours later, I saw a big sign on the side of the road that said “road closure – marathon in progress” and underneath was the closure times. It was like seeing an old ghost.

How do you deal with this? Last year I got really cranky but I also felt down about my finish time. I did sign up for a half marathon, managed a PB and then felt a little better. I continued working out and started thinking about triathlon. I’m sure that’s what kept my motivation to keep my fitness level up. This year, I just miss the rush of the race. Next year I want to do the Calgary marathon – so I signed up already. Now I already have a race I can look forward to and it’s earlier in the year – May 30th – so I have to start training mid February. Really – that’s not that far off and knowing this has helped me deal with the “post race blues”.

I still have my sprint triathlon September 7th. So I’m heading out for a long overdue swim today at the pool and start getting used to my bike  and clipless pedals tomorrow. Best part is, I’ve recovered super fast. I have some calf pain – I did before the race and Marc thinks it’s shin splints (I think it’s just a big knot) – but I think by next week I’ll start doing some small runs again. Nothing more than 5 to 10k though.

So I guess that’s the trick. Sign up for another race for next season. Start thinking about it and your plan of attack. Think about what you can do over the next few months to improve upon your time. My plan is to really focus on my core and building strength for the next few months with a little bit of aerobic exercise. I’m also using my Wii Fit to improve my balance with the balance games and yoga.  Brenda invited me out to her dragon boat practices for the fall – great upper body and core workouts. Then, come February, I’m going to start focusing more on the swim, bike and run and do light strength training but keep up the core work, balancing and stretching.

Stay focused, stay strong, move forward.

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