Why Ironman Racing?

I’ve been involved in endurance sport since my 20’s. I ran my first marathon when I was 27 under a lot of job stress. And actually it was controlling that stress that pushed me from being a casual jogger to running marathons. I was a disgruntled architect and soon realized I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to travel the world teaching English. During the past 15 years- a lot has evolved- jobs, men and countries have come, gone and some have stayed; but I always kept running as a staple to maintain physical but more importantly mental health.

In the past few years however, I have been struggle with some sort of depression/ fog/ negativity that overcomes me now and again. I say “some sort of depression” because it doesn’t stop me from functioning and I don’t have any physical symptoms but even still, a grey haze invades my morale often.

When it first started, I immediately began running more and I remembered how I had always wanted to do an Ironman. As I had a lot more free time, I decided to at least start with short distance triathlons. With so much to think about such as equipment, training, etc, this gray haze slowly came less and less. And so like anything else, I started training even more and the depression left.

I’m now in the middle of this large challenge of completing multiple Ironman races in one year and while it gives me great joy, my gray haze returns often again. I can’t train anymore than I do; I can’t start training for ultra Ironman races in the attempt to escape this- I haven’t even yet mastered finishing an Ironman in under 13 hours- one of my goals. With each step, pedal or stroke it’s like I’m running from this heavy cloud that’s chasing me.

My question now is can the endorphin high from training be useful in combating depression in the long term? As this is the summer of multiple Ironmans I’m going to do my best to discover what will work; what combination of elements when put together could work.

In the meantime, I tried one of Michael Phelps workouts. It’s 4×25, 4×50, 4×75, 4×100, 4×125, 4×150, 4×175, 4×200. Then you descend back down. I didn’t finish as I ran out of time but I can say I wanted to crawl out of the pool and die and I was, at that instant, ridiculously happy.