How to Handle Post Tri-Matic Stress Disorder

Have you ever felt feelings of sadness or post-race depression after completing an event or wrapping up your race season? If so, you may be experiencing Post Tri-matic Stress Disorder (PTriSD).

Although this condition has never been clinically diagnosed, I'm sure it's a growing epidemic in the endurance community. It affects our relationships, our livelihood and our lives.

If there was a triathlon-related issues section on WebMD, I'm sure the definition of PTriSD would be a mental health condition triggered by completing one of the following:

  1. Your "A" race for the season
  2. A bucket-list race (e.g. Nationals, Alcatraz etc.)
  3. An event you've dedicated an extreme amount of time to such as an Ironman or 70.3
  4. Facing your fears and completing a race that terrified you in the past

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Post-race depression may become more apparent during the offseason, or when it gets a little colder outside and you start spending way too much time at holiday parties.

Although I'm proud of my triathlon accomplishments, the resulting post-race depression symptoms have caused me to become somewhat socially awkward. My boss's concern for when I'm going to take a real vacation (you know the kind that doesn't involve a race) and the "Get Well Soon" cards I've received from friends have started to worry me.

The following is a case study conducted between 2012 and 2013 that examines the symptoms of PTriSD. This study was conducted under my supervision and had two test subjects: my boyfriend Scott and myself.

Case Study

Event: Wildflower Triathlon

Years Completed: 2011 to 2013

Distance: 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run

Pre-Race Symptoms:

  • Excessive training and increased frequency of mid-day napping
  • Loss of interest in social activities or becoming socially inept, especially on Friday and Saturday nights
  • Obsessive, uncontrollable thoughts of goal race pace, countdown to race day, new bike parts or anything tri-related
  • Constant analysis of data compiled from workouts on Garmin Connect or Strava
  • Mild panic attacks during the tapering period
  • Upsetting dreams about showing up to the race without a wetsuit, with only one bike shoe, or even worse, naked
  • Loss of verbal skills (In 2012 Scott didn't speak to me or his parents for about 48 hours prior to the event)

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