Sunday, September 2, 2012

Post Ironman Stress Syndrome

There are several Post <something> Disorders on the books. Take, for example, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is commonly found in soldiers returning from war. Or car crash victims. Or those who have have heinous crimes committed against them. Some spend their lives trying to reacclimate to society while living in the personal hell of their mind forever scarred by the travesty they had just experienced. There are various degrees of horror on the PTSD spectrum, none of them are fun. Without help, sufferers may remain in a state of disorder for a very long time.

Some women have been known to experience Postpartum Disorders. PPD happens after giving birth. These new mothers can have mood swings, grumpiness, or full blown depression. It should go away on its own but, in persistent cases, therapy is required.

Most of the Post Disorders are caused in similar fashion. First, there was an event. Second, stress hormones were released. Third, body chemistry was thrown out of balance. Symptoms arise as a result of imbalanced chemistry as order is attempted to be restored.

Shortly after I did IMLP 2012, I diagnosed myself (because, as a guy, I don't normally go to the doctor), with a new Post Disorder that I'm pretty sure exists but no one has done the research yet. I named my disorder "Post Ironman Stress Syndrome." That's right, I was PISSy. My PISSy-ness helps explain the lag in posts during the month of August. But there's more to the story.

Being PISSy is not fun for you or for those around you. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:
  • Lack of desire to remove yourself from the couch
  • Penchant to watching bad movies
  • Sleeping more than normal
  • Overdeveloped desire to eat more than your activity level
  • No motivation to exercise
  • Urge to blow off normal household chores
  • Neglecting or half-assing your blogging responsibilities
  • Basically, you have gone from Ironman to what you perceive is the average person
After my PISSy self-diagnosis, my August starts to make perfect sense. In late July, I had an event, I.E. less than stellar IM performance (worst of my lifetime). This crushed the dream that I spent 10 months working towards. To say that I was stressed over the lack of performance would be quite accurate.

This emotional stress was compounded by the physical damage of an Ironman. You muscle tissues are shredded from the effort and distance alone. Then, I learned that the cramp I experienced during the IM run was an actual injury that took more than a week to subside.

My stress was worsened when I realized that for the first time in 6 years, I did not sign up for IMLP. As of this moment, my 2013 calendar is IM free and I am struggling to cope with that reality- which was slowly slipping away from me. IMLP fills up in a matter of minutes so I can't change my mind even if I wanted to.

When you are sore and hurt, what else do you do in your free time? If you're anything like me, you sit on the couch and watch bad movies. This position and activity lends itself to napping and snacking. Before the race, I was eating on par with my exercise. My stomach didn't get the memo that it was time to back off. I gained weight. I never actually want to do chores. As for the blog half-assing... that speaks for itself.

Luckily for me and my loved ones, I have found the cure. Should you find yourself in a PISSy situation, here's what you need to do.

Part 1- Watch this semi-NSFW video (turn down the volume if you're at work or in the presence of innocent/ judging ears).

Part 2- Go for a swim, bike and/ or run. Force it. You don't need to go hard. You just need to go.

Part 3- Sign up for races. Nothing cures PISSy-ness like spending money on sport.

I did all of these and I am seemingly cured. Since my condition, I have done 3 races (race reports soon to follow) and I signed up for a half-distance event in late September. I am training again. Losing weight. I have a plan for a 2013 IM.  I have focus. (Jury's still out on the blog.) I am no longer PISSy.

As with most Post ___ Disorders, PISSy can take over your life if left untreated. Everyone will know you as the PISSy guy/ gal. They'll avoid you as who wants to socialize with someone who is PISSy. They'll say things behind you back that they think you cannot hear, like, "Don't mess with him/ her, they're PISSy." Of course, these acts will only make your syndrome worse. You could slip into a state of depression. Then, you'd be PISS'D. And no one wants that.

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