Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dealing with Post Race Depression

After 6 marathons this year I have come to understand my body so much better. One thing I have learned is that after running 26.2 miles my body takes complete control and no matter how hard I try it's useless to try and force it to do something it doesn't want to do. I believe it happens because my body is stripped bare and it resorts to primal, survival instincts.

Part of this process is a deep depression. It has happened after every marathon I've run. It takes a day or two to set in but it always shows up. I begin to feel worthless and wonder what value I have to anyone in this world. I can't seem to focus on anything but my numerous personal faults and why I can't fix myself and become a better person. This train of thought feeds on itself and, well, you get the picture. There isn't much I can do to prevent this from happening so usually I just withdraw into myself and wait it out. Does this happen to anyone else?

Ok so this time I knew it was coming this time so I took some action to help deal with it.

I got tickets for my son and I to the Metallica concert in Tulsa!!

It was AWESOME! Oh My Goodness it was great. They absolutely rocked that place and we totally got into it. I've never screamed so loud, screamed so long, and banged my head that hard! I was able to totally revert to a teenager again and had a BLAST! I can't explain how great it was to act like a kid again with, well, my kid!

They turned the house lights on

My son jammin'

Some people were surprised to hear the Metallica was still around and playing concerts! I won't mention who would make a remark that would make me feel even older than I actually am but she lives South-of-a-Bay and she's a Girl!!! Yes James, Lairs, and Kirk are going bald but they are still playing GREAT rock and can still throw what's left of their hair around!

This little excursion into letting the teenager inside me loose helped keep my spirits up for a couple days but also made me very tired. We didn't get back home until 1:30 in the morning and I had to get up and go to work today. Couple the lack of sleep, ringing ears, no voice and sore throat, and some marathon-induced depression and Willie is a mess.

Which brings me to my next topic.

Runner dies in Tulsa Route 66 1/2 Marathon

After the marathon I heard from my buddy that he saw paramedics giving CPR to someone at the top of the biggest hill on the course. Turns out it was this guy and he didn't make it. Runner's World has a big spread about runners dying during marathons this month also. Our running club had a speaker scheduled to talk about running and heart attacks. Talk about coincidences. I don't really believe in coincidences so I'm a little worried that someone's trying to tell me something.

I'll apologize now for being insensitive but my first thought when faced with all this news of dying while running a marathon was, "What a wonderful way to go!". Maybe it's the depression coming through but I couldn't think of a better way to die. Go out for a nice long run and just not come back. That to me is so much better than laying in a hospital bed with tubes sticking out of me while some teenage doctor conducts experiments on what's left of the vessel that contains my soul. Give me a sudden heart attack on any mile after 13 (please let me at least get half way) and I'll go with a smile. My soul will finish the race.

Thanks for listening


Southbay Girl said...

"Some people".....I think that person was ME! And yes I was truly surprised that Metallica is still around and playing concerts-but it didn't stop me from showing the picture you sent me to fellow coworkers who thought it was funny!! As long as you enjoyed yourself-that is ALL that matters!!! I'm not a Metallica fan, but if it made you smile and escape your post-marathon depression...well then bring on Metallica concerts after all the marathons WIllie runs!!!

That is so very sad to hear about the runner who passed away! I always fear I might see someone on the side of the road!

I don't get depressed after running marathons-mind you haven't run a full marathon in a few years.....but I get depressed when I feel fat etc....everyone has these moments-yours come when your body has been really worked and you are probably at a mental and physical low....the positive thing-you know it's coming and you've started doing something about it...even if it is Metallica concerts....

JenZen said...

I'll bet that was an AWESOME concert!! Puhahah...way not to single out anyone in particular...

I read that Runner's World article about people dying from heart attacks just a FEW DAYS before my race. Talk about freaking me out!!! ACK! But in my research for marathon recovery I read SEVERAL articles that talked about post-race depression. It's apparently very common. You've built-up and built-up and trained and anticipated for 5 or 6 months and then this event is suddenly over. What next? Running with a group on the weekends helps me keep my spirits up and I'm always looking for that next race to keep me going.

AND MISTER (here's where I fuss at you) you have NOTHING to be beating yourself up over. You are SUCH an inspirational runner and your support and advice truly, truly helped me get to and through my first marathon. When I do my speed work my mantra is "I wanna be fast like Willie!" :) I mean, just stop and think about what your body has allowed you to do and still allows you to do. RUN 26 miles! That's AWESOME, especially when we're at a crisis in our nation when most people can't even walk a mile. You are in an elite class and you should be praising your accomplishements - mind, body and soul!

Sarah said...

Willie- I am so jealous you were able to see Metallica. What a great post-marathon treat. When Ry and I were in Kansas City Metallica was getting ready to come to the Sprint Center and they already had all their gear, lighting, and staging semi-trucks parked outside. I'm a concert freak and that was so cool. I can't imagine seeing a group as legendary (and that does not translate as old) as Metallica. I'd probably wet my pants if I heard "Enter Sandman" live. :)

Secondly, believe it or not I know exactly what you mean about the post-race depression. I've tried digging it out from the depths of my psychology degree as to why it happens and I can only figure this...we train and prepare and take our bodies to the ultimate extreme for 26 miles and to the pinnacle- the finishline. After it's over I feel this amazing sense of loss. My life was consumed by this thing, this marathon, and then it's over. Just like that. I consider it similiar to postpardom despression for moms. All that being said, you accomplished something that is magnificent and I hope you don't let the nasty depression rid you of your victory from a great race! You are so awesome, Willie, and you did incredible in Tulsa. Please remember that!! :)

Maryland Girl said...

I got to hang out and do shots with the guys from Metallica on a couple of occasions many years ago in my life. Awesome that you saw them live. They do put on a good show. Good guys too from my experiences with them. Good way to beat the blues - crank up the music and scream. I do it in my car often. Dark Foo Fighters songs are my favorite for that.