Sudden Drop in Mood After Ultramarathon

Am I the only one to experience this?  I complete an amazing event, I am super-uplifted (I am thinking of the Surfcoast Ultramarathon and the Salomon Trail Series final race), but shortly afterwards, the bottom falls out of my world.

I am great when I have a huge goal to aim at – a PhD, publishing a book, doing my first ultramarathon – but when these goals are accomplished, I fall into despair.  I don’t know what to aim at next, or the thing I am aiming at just doesn’t seem big enough or bad enough to inspire me.

And this, from someone whose job it is to inspire others!  Such a wonderful job, I have, but on days like today – when the big goals have been achieved, and my race kit is hung up to wait for the next big thing – it is a difficult job.

How to uplift when I am not uplifted?  Tomorrow I return to teaching my BodyPump classes after a week away, and I am struggling with what to tell the classes.  They’ve been there through this whole journey, from when I could only run 10km to when I finally managed 22km.  What I feel like telling them tomorrow night feels so very different from what I would have told them Sunday night after those races, when I was glowing with the achievement that we all had made happen.  I want that feeling back, is what I want to say.  Give me that feeling back.  Right now.

So my question (and I think I know the answer already), is do any of you feel this sudden down once your goals have been nailed?  And if you do, what do you do about it?

I suspect it is a case of Yin and Yang, where I am a Yang sort of girl, a go-go-go adrenalin junkie who needs to live a bit on the edge to feel fully alive.  It’s the opposite of this, the slowing, the being, the deep breathing I sometimes have trouble with.  Give me a big goal, give me a mountain to climb, a new country to settle in, a huge change – this I can manage.  But slowing down, waiting for the next thing with grace.  Uh uh.

So perhaps that is what this time in between events is meant to teach me.  To learn to slow with a bit more grace.

I am off to try meditation now.  I’ve been long away from a quiet space.

Send me your thoughts, and the ways you use to get out of this place, if, indeed, you get into it too…

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5 thoughts on “Sudden Drop in Mood After Ultramarathon

  1. I had a great talk with a mate of mine that completed his first Ironman earlier this year. It was really tough for him and his advice to me was pretty simple: Relax, let yourself go a little, rebuild slowly and aim for the next event.

    Post event depression is a real phonomena. I think it is really simple psychology. We focus so hard for so long on the finish of the race, often so much that we don’t enjoy the race or journey itself.

    Then when it is over we haven’t planned for the first few steps after the finish line. It takes just as much discipline I think to follow Johns simple advice above than it does to get out and run, every day in the cold, dark pouring rain of a Melbourne Winter. Yet look at how much we have to look forward to this spring and summer.

  2. I find having the next event lined up certainly helps. Gives the opportunity to digest the achievement, but also prevent the aimlessness of not having the next goal in sight. Even if the next goal is months away, it’s still there on the horizon.

    • I’m wondering if it was the size of the last goal, being huge, that mattered. Doing a half-marathon next just doesn’t seem big enough. Perhaps that is the real issue. I love your blog btw, you have a new follower!

  3. Pingback: Run of the (muddy) mill | The muddy masochist

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