A Cautionary Tale
by Gordo Byrn
Following Tyler Hamilton’s book, a friend recommend David Millar’s book, Racing Through the Dark. I got a kick out of the book as Millar and I have crossed paths many times without meeting (Hong Kong, Noosa, France).
Endurance sport attracts people, myself included, who become manic on depressants -- the two most common being fatigue and alcohol. Millar shares anecdotes of how he responds to fatigue and booze (my depressants of choice in my 20s and 30s).
If you are prone to feelings of mania then you’re probably at risk for depression. While professional athletes may need to take chances with their mental health, you don’t! Here’s a depression-avoiding athletic formula:
If you’re keen on living extreme then getting rid of your training binges will be tough. However, if the pain of depression becomes greater than the high of binging... I hope you remember this article. The seven tips above pull me out of depression every time.
Millar shares that many elite athletes find themselves addicted to sleeping pills. Two of the best decisions that I’ve made in my life are no banned stimulants (cocaine and amphetamines) and no sleeping pills. I’ve been in groups where both were used extensively. I have never had a moral view on this advice -- I simply knew that, given my psychological make-up, it was a bad idea for me to access those drugs. By the way, you don’t need a dealer to get yourself into trouble; coffee and sudafed can get you hooked and testing positive.
During my elite career, I was fortunate to be surrounded by peers with little interest in doping (Millar far less so). One of the best pieces of advice I received (from Dr. John Hellemans) was to avoid all injections. Similar to Millar, I took antioxidants, iron and B-vitamins. However, I took them orally and didn’t become habituated to needles. I would recommend a no-needles policy to every young athlete who wants to stay clean.
Simple rules keep us from making mistakes we will regret later.
Gordo is the founder of Endurance Corner. You can find his personal blog here.