The Post-Race Blues

There’s been a lot of excitement in my life recently. I finished my 40th and final race of the year a few weeks ago, had a great Thanksgiving in Colorado, and reveled in some incredible #40years40races statistics. And now that all that’s done and over with, I find myself struggling with some depression.

Depression, like obesity, will likely be something I will always have to deal with. I started getting treatment for it in high school and it still pops back into my life, waves hello, and lingers for a few weeks every so often. I’ve gotten much better at recognizing it as I get older, and thinking about it from the perspective of it being an illness and not a character flaw. I also know that my depression is cyclical, and that a bout of depression will likely vanish as quickly as it appears.

I think there’s a big ‘now what?’ component to this particular spell of depression. I spent 11 months focused on racing, whether it was the actual race, or training, or registering for events and planning travel. But all that is over now. I’ve reached that goal. I succeeded. I may never race this frequently again. Now what? 

At the same time, I’ve earned a break from racing, and I’m taken it easy, and that’s a good thing. I’ve earned it. I deserve it. I put my body through a lot this year, and having some downtime and recovery time is important. But… Now what? 

All the races and training took up a considerable amount of bandwidth in my brain for such a long time, and letting go of that was celebratory at first. But it was replaced with nothing, and I think that empty void started weighing on me. The silence from that part of my brain became deafening, and perhaps paralyzing.

The solution, of course, is to keep moving forward. I’ve settled on a 2020 race goal – which is to find and compete in five new-to-me stair races in five cities I haven’t raced in yet. I’ve done a lot of research, putting together a spreadsheet of dates, options, and links, but I haven’t bitten the bullet and registered for any of them yet. I thought that beginning that process too soon might deprive me of the mental break I needed after finishing the 40 races this year, but now I think I need to start the process, because the mental break might be doing more harm than good.

I know that depression pushes me to make poor choices. My depression challenges my self-esteem. I exercised less and snacked more last week than I should have, because my depression says ‘why bother?’ My depression urges me to stay in bed and wallow in unhealthy thought cycles, instead of starting my day with some exercise. My depression tells me that hundreds and hundreds of extra calories in snacks isn’t a big deal, because I’m not worth the effort it takes to remain diligent with food choices.

My depression got the better of me last week, but this week, I’ve been fighting back. I’ve been exercising every morning and snacking less. I tackled – and completed – a couple projects that have been on my to-do list for a few weeks, and staying busy is a wonderful way to combat depression.

I will continue to fight, too. I want to start registering for races this weekend, and that will help. I will keep exercising, making smart food choices, and reminding myself that I am deserving of these efforts, and of the value I provide to everyone in my orbit.

What’s happened in the past is that, with healthy thoughts and a renewed focus on a healthy lifestyle, the depression will slowly fizzle and fade, and eventually I’ll become so immersed in all the wonderful things in my life that I’ll forget that it ever paid a visit at all. That’s what will happen this time, too, and I know I can keep fighting until it does.

Keep it up, David!

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5 Responses to The Post-Race Blues

  1. sybilg58@aol.com says:

    You’re fabulous, David!!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Sybil

  2. Chris Brown says:

    I feel let down after a big race is over but I’ve never done anything as challenging as 40 in one year. It’s normal to feel let down but depression is a stealthy thing isn’t it? Glad you’ve got a plan and recognize it for what it is. I’m wondering if you have set up your chart like you had in the back of your wardrobe area. I always get encouraged about maintaining when I see your amazing accomplishment in that chart. Take care, Chris

  3. G.M. Grena says:

    “Now what?” You could edit your “In a Nutshell” paragraph, which still says you’re 39. Since you mention “January 2010”, it would be interesting to hear you compare your state of mind, achievements, & dreams back then with what they are next month on that anniversary.

  4. mfclingan says:

    I have experienced that feeling so many times. You just spent a huge portion of your life working toward a goal (which you smashed). And now it’s leaving a huge void! Keep your chin up! You e got your plan and I know you will smash that new goal also!!

  5. Eilonwy says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience with these cycles. It is helpful to know others experience them and to learn how others successfully cope.

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