The feeling of crossing the line after an amazing race is hard to beat. You’ve put in weeks, and even months of hard work, you’ve trained your butt off and you’ve hit your goals. But what now?
Feeling a bit deflated once the big race is over is completely normal. This phenomenon is known as the “post-race blues” and is experienced by many, many runners. According to psychologists, any time you set a big goal and spend months preparing for an achievement, you are susceptible to some letdown, afterward.
Most runners tend to be goal-oriented people (no surprise there!), and because of that, they tend to be at a greater risk than most for suffering some blues. When you consider the amount of time you invested in training and the countless hours spent supporting that training with activities like cross-training, weight training, stretching, eating right and sleeping, it’s no wonder you feel at a loss when it’s all over.
In other words, training to achieve this goal has consumed such a huge portion of your time and your life, that once accomplished, you now have a huge void to fill.
The best way to deal is to set another goal and get back at improving your performance. Many runners often set another goal before even completing a targeted race in an effort to avoid the blues. Now, that said, another “goal” doesn’t necessarily mean another race. You can also target other areas of your life for goal-setting too.
If you choose another race, it’s really important to adequately recover before tackling the next one. Setting another goal can mean something like strength training or swimming or yoga to complement your running. Or choose something totally different, like returning to school, asking for a promotion, or travelling.
The point is this: Give yourself another focus as soon as you can to fill the void to avoid feeling lost. Here are some other suggestions for coping with post-race blues to keep your motivation and performance high:
Focus on Recovery
Recovery is just as important as training, so devote time and energy to it. Plan to sleep in, eat, and pamper yourself for the first three days after your race. Planning for it helps you avoid feeling guilty! Then begin an active recovery phase that can and should include light exercise. Plan to walk, ride a bike, stretch, run easy or swim for 30 to 45 minutes several times a week for two to three weeks after your race.
Assess Your Race
Spend some time during recovery to dissect your performance. Note your strengths and weaknesses so you can tweak your next training plan, especially if you are planning another race. How was your endurance? How was your running form? Would you benefit from more mileage, more speed, or more strength training? Make your list and figure out how best to improve your training.
Set Another Goal
Have something else to look forward to, but don’t shortchange your recovery. Putting another race on your calendar is fine, as long as you don’t fall into the trap of over-racing or over-training. Choose a different distance or target a triathlon.
In the days or weeks following a big race, use your down time to tackle chores you may have neglected during your training. Catch up on housework, emails, letters or maybe even work.
Plan to do something different and fun during your recovery period. Plan a post-race holiday, visit family, travel, plan lunch or dinner dates with friends. You could even check out the bestseller lists and make a reading list.
And, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for your accomplishment. Enjoy your achievement!