How to deal with Post Race Depression after an Ironman Race?
Nobody tells you about post race depression. Not because they don't want to, or because it doesn't exist but because everyone has it at a different level and mostly tries to forget about it. Post race depression is also not unique to Ironman races, although it is where we are focusing in this article, it could and does apply to all manner of hard fought sports events such as cycle races, canoe races or multiday stage trail running races. The way to deal with it is the same in all though.
Half of the battle in dealing with post race depression is to be prepared for it. By accepting that you will suffer from it to some degree you can be ready to spot its early stages and counter act it where possible. The more Ironman races you do the better you will become at this but accept that you always have it to some degree.
Be ready to no longer be the hero
If you are not part of an especially active circle of friends or family you will be a hero to this people immediately and in the days of post race. There will be dinner invites, coffee invites, maybe even a large celebration in your honor where you will be the star of the show. It is generally when this period ends that athletes come back to earth with a crash as everyone heads back to their lives and you are no longer the hero. You have to understand this and be ready for it as it will be the worst time.
Continue to Train
The worst cases of post race depression often come when the athlete decides to take total rest. While this has positive physical implications it often has negative mental implications as there are suddenly gaping holes in your schedule that used to be filled by training. You suddenly start to pick up a little weight too and begin to measure yourself against your physical best of a few weeks ago, it doesn't feel good. By training, at a much lower intensity and frequency, you can off set much of these issues.
While it is not a good idea to keep running high mileage, both swimming and cycling have a lesser effect on your body so choose these as your training sessions. Also change things up a little. Decide to meet friends for coffee at a caf and cycle there, better yet meet up with them and cycle together in a social bunch. Maybe give Mountain biking a try? Join a swim squad and enter a few races at a local gala. Anything to keep you physically active will be beneficial. Remember though you will need to rest so be aware of this and keep the intensity low.
Have another goal in mind
A good way to avoid post race depression is to have another goal in mind before you even get to the Ironman. Maybe there is a double century ride a few months after the race? Maybe you have always wanted to surf? Or perhaps you want to set a personal record for a 10Km run? Whatever it is, try to have something to focus your attention on post race. Again this is within reason and caution as you will not want to overdo it too soon but it is a lot better than sitting on a couch thinking what now?
Plan a weekend break
If you have been fortunate enough to have a supportive spouse during your training then plan a weekend away with them for a few weeks post race to thank them for all that they have done. Go away to the country to relax, spend quality time reconnecting with them and just enjoy life. This is far and away one of the best things that you can do and your spouse will thank you for it too.
An Ironman race is a magnificent achievement for anyone to complete, however like all challenges there is generally a coming back to earth after the event. By following these tips you should ensure that you come back down a little gentler.
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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )