The PowerUp Tri Podcast is hosted by former pro triathletes Matt Lieto and Jordan Rapp, who lend their in-depth knowledge of the multisport to the Zwift Tri audience.
This week our guest is one we’ve been wanting to chat with ever the show began--Sarah True. Sarah has had an amazing career in ITU racing with two Olympic appearances, including a 4th place in London, as well as a 2nd place in the World Triathlon Series. In the last few years she has moved to the long course racing scene and has found great success.
Sarah comes onto the podcast to talk with us about a difficult topic: depression in endurance athletes. This isn’t an easy subject to talk about, but a very important one, and we are extremely grateful to Sarah for being so open with us.
Depression is something a shocking amount of athletes deal with, but one that is not often talked about for fear of judgment. Is there more of a stigma about mental health issues than our physical body’s health issues? Sarah points out the reality of the difference between how we often handle body versus brain health: “If I have a stress fracture, that's something that on the surface I can talk about openly. If I'm going through clinical depression and I'm having recurring thoughts of suicide, that's not something that I can talk about openly without fear of judgment.” In reality, mood disorders and depression are real and serious medical issues and should be treated just like a physical ailment: directly, and in most cases with the help of a professional.
There has been a movement lately where role models in sport, including Sarah, have spoken openly about this subject to set an example that it is okay to deal with mental health issues. Another one of those people is one of the most successful Olympic athletes of all time--Michael Phelps. Athletes like Phelps--who seem to have everything, but still struggle with mental health and are open about their struggles--can be such a good example of it truly being something anyone can deal with.
Why does it seem there may be a predisposition to depression for those in endurance sports? I personally think one reason is that it’s a control issue. Often people dealing with depression feel like they don’t have control and with endurance sports there is a high level of control over your improvement. If you put in the time, put in the effort, and follow the plan, in most cases you will have personal success. This is why, I think, a lot of people that are predisposed to mood disorders find themselves in endurance sports.
We dive further into mental health, but we also have lots of fun chat on the show away from that topic. I continue to get educated on the ITU events and its world championship series, which is far less confusing than I make it out to be. Sarah, a Zwift Academy Tri mentor, gives us an update on the team and its 8 for 8 Kona qualifiers. Lastly, you just may find out another few nicknames for Sarah that you didn’t know about!
Matt and Jordan want to hear from you! Add your questions and topic ideas to the forum and they could be featured in an upcoming episode.