by Mark Jimenez
I’ve kind of been in a post race funk after the St. George marathon. Post race depression is a very real thing. We set a goal and strive for it, working so hard to reach it. It becomes a major part of our lives. We eat healthy, wake up early, and make other sacrifices to achieve our goal. What we don’t do is prepare for life after the event. For many of us, the days after a big event are filled with a sense of sadness. After the initial excitement of having competed in the event subsides, there seems to be a bit of emptiness in our lives.
For me, after having not achieved my goal in St. George, there has been a bit of a double-whammy for post race depression. If you’ve been reading this space long enough, you know that depression is something I struggle with anyway, and fighting those demons back is one of the reasons I run every day. Life continues to throw curve balls at me, or sometimes a fast ball right to the face. Life changes have also continued to throw a wrench into my mental well-being. Needless to say, it’s been a tough week.
As you read in the blog last week, I became committed to going back to what I enjoyed about running, which is the act of running itself. I got so caught up in the competition aspect of the event that I completely lost sight of the joy of the event itself and the fact that I did something that 99% of the population will never do. The next time I do a marathon, I am committed to approaching it with the excitement and happiness that it deserves. I will no longer dread any run or any workout.
After reading last week’s blog, a friend hesitantly reached out to me. She told me about a podcast that she had recently come across. She was a little worried to send it my way because she didn’t want me to think that she was piling on about the St. George race. She was right to worry, I have the unique ability to take any compliment and turn it into an insult. Nevertheless I decided to listen to the podcast when I had a few moments and see what it was all about.
What I listened to will hopefully change my life. It has certainly changed my perspective. The Happiness Lab talks about the science behind happiness and how our brains trick us into thinking certain things will make us happy, when more often that not, our brain is deceiving us.
You can find The Happiness Lab wherever you get your podcasts.
The episode of The Happiness Lab that was shared with me dealt with winning the silver medal. I’m not going to lie, there were several times when I was listening to this podcast that I thought Dr. Santos (the podcast host) was talking directly to me. The thoughts that she was discussing were oddly familiar to me. It was like she was living right in my head. In a way, it became very comforting to know that there are other people out there who think like me!
Do you remember this picture?
I’m pretty sure everybody remembers McKayla Maroney’s face at the medal ceremony in the 2012 London games. She just won the silver medal. The silver medal at the holy freaking cow olympic games! Only one person in the entire world was better than her, but instead of being pleased, McKayla was focused on the person that beat her, rather than the approximately 7 billion people she was better than on that day.
Here’s a little homework. Take a look at the face of the bronze medal winner on that day in London and see if she is as upset as McKayla.
I listened to the entire podcast of The Happiness Lab (it’s only 4 episodes) in about 2 days. We all pursue happiness, but many of us are going about it in the wrong way. What I learned from listening to this podcast is the true joy often comes from the journey rather than the destination. Whether or not I performed well in St. George, it was the journey that was incredible. I ran laps on the track at 4am when the stars were shining. I ran 70 miles in a week, twice, when I had never done that before. I made new friends along the way.
After St. George I could only think about how I had wasted time. Now I am changing my perspective. I am grateful that I went on an amazing journey and learned so much about myself, my endurance, my capabilities, and my limits.
One of the other things I learned about our brains from The Happiness Lab is that we are social creatures. Even introverts are happier when they have social experiences. I can’t think of a better social experience than to take part in one of our three weekly group runs! We run every Tuesday from both stores at 6pm, and every Saturday at Dunkin on Charleston and 215 at 7:30am! Join us!
Finally, I learned that there is no such thing as permanent happiness. It is a state we can achieve but then we come back to a baseline. In order to keep getting to the happiness level we have to be grateful for what we have. I am so incredibly lucky to have a support system in place of good friends who listen to me. I have a business partner / friend in Dewey who has never once judged me or questioned me. Every single time I do something that would upset any other normal person, he responds by not reacting at all, and then giving me a hug when he sees me next. I’m grateful for four healthy children. I’m grateful for all the happy accidents that have changed my life. I’m grateful that I have been healthy enough to run every day.
If you have a few minutes, I highly encourage you to listen to The Happiness Lab in the way you receive podcasts. It will change you!