Thursday, October 1, 2009

Coming Out of the Fog

Here I am, Nixon style, with a big old shoulder shrug (tried my best) and a second place peace sign after finishing the MOMAR last Saturday in about 5hours and 36minutes. Photo courtesy of Aimee Asselin:)

MOMAR is done, the end of my race season has arrived and I am pulling out of the post-race fog, finally.

For about 36 hours following MOMAR I am typically in a mild dehydration, glucose depletion, post-race serotonin deprivation fog. This is not the first time this has happened and I know that I am not alone. By Tuesday morning the fog had lifted and I was sharp and fired up to my usual self once again. But I have experienced what I would call 'post-race depression or blues' following other races in the past.

I am not alone.

Many racers experience a low feeling once they cross the finish line and the adrenaline wears off. Face it, any activity that involves a 'high' always involves a 'low' - be it healthy or unhealthy extracurricular activity.

What goes up must come down and there are many hypothesized reasons for the post race blues.

I believe there is both a chemical & emotional response to the cessation of intense race pace training and exercise. Serotonin levels seem to drop below pre-race levels and nothing but chocolate can make you happy.

Many people feel a sense of 'emptiness' in their lives when their activity level, social training network and weekly schedule suddenly and dramatically changes following a big event or competition.

This is normal and makes complete sense.

So how can we prepare for this and decrease the intensity of the post race blues? Common sense:
1. Set yourself up with a reward following your big event to soften the low. Some people book trips following big races - this is a great time as your training schedule will allow it and you can focus on healing and recovery.

2. Catch up on all the things you couldn't do while you were so busy training! Remember all those Sundays when you wanted to sleep in or go for brunch with your friends but you couldn't because of your training commitment? Remind yourself of all those things and get out and do them!

3. Play. Move your body in a non-structured, fun way. Do whatever you want and try all the things you have wanted to do but didn't have time or energy. No schedule, no plan, no worries!

Finally, here are 2 great quotes from an e-article written by Amy Lemen on the website::

Above all, keep things in perspective. It's helpful to take a
step back, appraise how the race went, and move on, especially since many
athletes' identities are often closely tied to their life in training.

You need to find other forms of self-validation. Remember WHY you
started doing the sport to begin with, and have fun with it.

Sometimes we think it's all about a goal, and we forget that there's joy in
getting there.

This is me at the 'back of the pack' (thanks for the constant reminders on the megaphone Bryan Tasaka) wondering whatthehell I am doing in a Solstice touring boat when I was supposed to be in a low volume Extreme cutting through the water... It almost looks like I am crying...I could have when I realized what a beast of a boat I was in and my lats started cramping on me like vibrating wings on my back...will have to talk to CVK about that one...grrrrrrr... Photo by Tony Austin...

This is the steeeeep spot on Off Broadway where I was stoked to stay on my bike cause Tony was there with his big camera! Races do make us do things we are afraid of... Photo courtesy of Tony Austin:)



Korky said...

I now know that feeling and thank you for sharing! I am thinking what to do when the marathon is over and all the running time with my friends isn't there?? It has been a great summer! Thanks Friends of ELM

The Sénéchals said...

Sarah you are so inspirational! Congrats on a great race season, slow boat and all :)