Afterglow and Hangover

It’s hard not to smile when you roll out of bed and the sun is shining. You have nothing in particular to do, maybe a Suffer Club session, and you don’t need the weather to be perfect, but it is. This after running through a late winter storm at the weekend.

Very funny New England. Very funny.

Here we are in the afterglow of running 30 miles. There is a literal glow. Am I still tired, even though I’ve slept all the sleep to catch up? Or is this just what it feels like when you put the big job behind you?

It is common for people who take on big projects to be struck with depression after the objective is achieved. I don’t feel that now, but I do understand how it happens. You have a thing that gives your life shape and purpose, and then it’s gone. You’re meant to feel elated (and you do), but what follows is sort of emptiness. An aimlessness.

So I have to strike a balance between contentment and impatience. If I rush off too soon and dive into a new project, it starts to get a little maniacal. “What am I running from?” someone might ask. Or, “when is it ever good enough?” Those are fair questions. As a lifelong depressive, I feel that urge to keep moving, lest things settle, lest I begin to spiral.

But I don’t want to live in fear either. A big part of my interest in endurance sports is cultivating a mindset that is resilient, so that when I find myself in difficulty, I can navigate my way out patiently, calmly, serenely.

At the same time, I can’t let an ambition vacuum form. I can’t let myself drift too much. Then I have this not knowing what to do problem, or a sudden lack of urgency around getting anything done. I’m human. I’m inertial. Give me a little relaxation and I want a lot more.

There is a danger in races, challenges and events. It’s easy to get fixated on what happens on the actual day, rather than on all the stuff that comes before. What I really want, more than a medal or a t-shirt, is the days and weeks of planning and training and thinking that comes before. Anything can happen on the big day. You can feel sick. You can get hurt. It can snow. If you’re focus is too sharply on that one day, then you’re in for a disappointment with no potential for correction. There are no do-overs.

We were fortunate that, despite the weather, we came through this last challenge pretty well. We’re here in the hangover days after trying to process it and figure out what comes next.

I think the answer in this specific moment is to devote some time to riding bikes, hiking, and even playing soccer again. Soon enough there will be another race or event to focus energy on, but I don’t need to bury the needle on my training right away. This is a good time to say yes to more invitations from friends and to spend more time outside with my family.