"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
Post Season Depression
Dear Tri Babes,
Even though it is not pleasant, we need to discuss a little psychological phenomenon known as . . . Post
Training Season Depression (PTSD).
For those of you who are feeling slightly "out of sorts," perhaps even oddly "depressed," please know that
you are NOT crazy and you are NOT alone. Each year, once my official triathlon training ends, I experience
a type of "post-triathlon depression." And, year after year, I hear other Tri Babes, admitting that they feel the
same way. I'm not EXACTLY sure why this happens. But, I DO know that it is a documented and
wide-spread phenomenon in the triathlon community. The party is now over, of COURSE you are a little sad.
I think that one part of this "post training season depression" is the fact that for the past 3 months, your life
has been programmed. You have been told what to do each day and were able to feel a daily sense of
accomplishment when you checked your daily training off your "to-do" list. Now, you are free to do whatever
you want. You had come to count on the regimentation of the training - now you feel abandoned by the
"freedom" in your schedule.
I think that another factor is that you know you have reached a pinnacle of sorts. You know you can't sustain
the level of training you have been engaged in and you know that it is really all downhill from here. You will
lose some fitness, gain some weight, relapse into some bad habits, etc.
Yet another factor is the reality that reality very rarely lives up to ideal expectations. Perhaps you didn't lose
quite as much weight as you had hoped; maybe you didn't comPLETE quite as quickly as you dreamed you
would; perhaps your finish line feelings were not exactly what you expected they would be; perhaps you
confronted aspects of yourself that you wish were non-existent.
If you are experiencing any of the above, I am truly sorry. I hate that anything associated with the Tri Babe
experience is even slightly less than wonderful. However, as a veteran of 10 triathlon seasons, I can promise
you that this post training depression is temporary. It is a natural emotional vicissitude that you need to
patiently suffer through. Eventually, your emotional boat will "right itself."
But . . . guess what? Your emotional boat will "right itself" MUCH more quickly if you avail yourself
of a very simple solution: OFF SEASON TRAINING (OST)!!!! Did you really think I would have any
other solution than more training?!?!?!?!?
All you really need is a bit of an attitude adjustment. Given some time, you will recognize three very
important truths: 1) you accomplished something amazing and worthy of pride this summer; 2) you are a
better person for WHATEVER experiences you had; 3) it is not only okay, it is healthy for you to alternate
between periods of intense, peak fitness and lesser, base fitness.
Please notice that ALL athletes, in ALL fields, have an "off season." They allow their bodies to rest and relax
while maintaining a base level of fitness. Then, when their "season" returns, they regain a more intense,
peak level of fitness. This is YOUR job between now and the start of the Tri Babe 2013 season. On the
Kitsaptribabes website, I have posted an Off Season Training Schedule for you to follow until we begin
again next year. Here are some of my suggestions for what to do until then:
1) Realize that you will prevent both physical injury and emotional burn-out if you give yourself a little
break from the intensity of the summer training schedule. You are NOT being lazy if you temporarily lighten
your exercise schedule; you ARE preserving your lifetime fitness.
2) Set a realistic "off season goal" to maintain a base level of fitness that will allow you to begin training
effectively next year. When our 2013 training begins, you will not be starting from scratch, you will be
starting from a productive "base level" of training. This will be a true statement as long as you continue to do
SOMEthing rather than NOthing this fall, winter, and spring. Remember, your goal is NOT to maintain
your current level of "peak" fitness; your goal is to maintain a "base" level of fitness. In the winter, I routinely
gain 5-10 pounds and drop from being able to comPLETE an Ironman to being able to comPLETE a Sprint
3) Begin signing up for as many fun local running events as possible - there are Halloween Dashes, Turkey
Trots, Jingle Bell Runs, and Polar Plunges awaiting. By doing these small, short, fun events, you maintain
consistency in your base level fitness program. And, by participating in frequent low stress events, you begin
to expand your comfort zone for events in general. Small events become "routine" for you; the logistics of
participating are "old hat." This way, you truly become a "veteran" at the "high stress" events during your
actual training season. You know the ropes inside and out and therefore can focus on the details of YOUR
4) Use your off-season to jump up to the next level in your triathlon skills. If you can't do the freestyle in the
swim, take some classes so that you can begin using this efficient stroke; if you are a competent freestyler,
consider taking some private lessons with a swim coach to fine-tune your stroke technique. Or, buy Total
Immersion and work your way through that program. Take some bike spinning classes at your gym of
preference to improve your biking skills. If you have a mountain bike, consider asking Santa for a Road Bike.
If you don't have clip-in pedals, ask Santa for those. Focus on speed work at the track and play around with
doing different running drills.
5) Choose a different "focus" for each month. Make October "Swim" month and vow to increase your swim
mileage dramatically. Let the sky be the limit in terms of how many different types of swim work-outs you
can create. Small differences are important. Be playful. Notice how your times drop as your mileage and
variety increases. Then, make November be "Bike" month. Dramatically increase the number of miles you
put on your bike while you devise new and exciting bike trainings. Declare December to be "Run" month and
repeatedly attack the same short route over and over seeing how low you can get your time.
I WILL be scheduling monthly triathlon "Winter Workshops" to help you develop your skills. Here are the
ones I have proposed (let me know if there are other focus areas you want me to develop for you): Circuit
Training; Beginner Swim ("Learn the Freestyle Crawl Stoke from Scratch"); Intermediate Swim ("Improve
your Freestyle technique through Drillwork"); Advanced Swim ("Improve your Conditioning through structured
work-outs"); Mountain Biking Techniques; Interval Track Work-Outs; Biking Up Hills; Bike Handling Skills;
Yoga for Athletes . . . let me know what other areas of focus YOU want/need from me. I hope to see
you at one of these soon.
In the meantime, cut yourself some slack, allow yourself to wallow a little longer in your well earned "post
triathlon depression," and then, as soon as possible, start following the Winter Training Schedule that I have
posted on the Kitsap Tri Babes website.
Please keep in touch over the winter and let me know if there is anything else you need from your Tri Turtle .
. . until we meet again . . . Lisa Bee