The post-race blues can hit you like a ton of bricks. After months of training and finally running your goal race, it’s suddenly time to rest, recover, and take a step back from high mileage and training. If you’re experiencing the post-race blues, here are six strategies to help you process your feelings and keep your head held high.
What are the Post-Race Blues?
Oftentimes, training for a goal race is a huge priority. Month after month, we’re running, strength training, prioritizing recovery, and mentally preparing for our race. We develop routines during training to make time for everything and feel a sense of achievement after each training week. Moreover, we feel unstoppable as running brings us clarity, focus, and confidence. Not to mention, seeing fitness build and come together fuels our fire even more and increases our excitement for the race.
But after the big day, many runners are left with a feeling of emptiness or a void, also known as the “post-race blues”. Rest and recovery become the main priorities and running takes a backseat. Suddenly, our routine and regimented schedule changes and is replaced with free time as we navigate life at a slower pace.
Even if a runner achieves their goal, like setting a new PR, the feelings of post-race blues can arise. Yes, it’s exciting to cross the finish line with a personal best. But what happens after that feeling of achievement wears off? You’ve finally accomplished something you’ve been working so hard for – now what?
While it’s tempting to return to higher mileage or register for another race after soreness subsides, respecting the recovery phase and off-season is important. Taking appropriate time to allow your body to heal from the mental and physical demands of training can help avoid future injuries, overtraining, and burnout.
If you’re experiencing the post-race blues, try moving through each of the following six strategies. Hopefully, these suggestions help you process your emotions and keep your spirits high.
6 Ways to Navigate the Post-Race Blues:
Celebrate your accomplishment
First, whether you hit your goal or not, acknowledge your hard work, time, and dedication during training. The growth and progress you’ve made is not defined by your race, but by how you’ve grown as a person over the months of training.
Your celebration might be going out with friends for drinks or having a meal with family members (the people who love you will want to celebrate with you!). Maybe you’re treating yourself to a spa day or a deep-tissue massage. Take this time to celebrate yourself and all you’ve achieved. Again, don’t minimize your hard work if you didn’t hit your goal on race day.
Share your feelings with others
Next, if you see a therapist, they are one of the people you can talk to about your feelings and what you’re experiencing. If not, share your feelings with friends and family. Even if these people are not runners themselves, they might be able to relate to working hard for a goal and then experiencing emptiness or a void.
If you know a runner personally or have a connection to the running community, ask them if they’ve ever experienced the post-race blues and how they navigated that time. Most importantly, don’t hold in your feelings. Talking things through and expressing yourself will likely help you feel better.
Have a recovery plan
If you like the routine of training and a more regimented schedule, brainstorm ahead of time what recovery might look like. For example, your recovery plan may include:
- Planning walks with friends
- Registering for classes at your local fitness center
- Finding some yoga videos on YouTube
- Trying a new sport
Without a doubt, you’ll want to stay active but keep your effort light. About a month after running a marathon, I participated in a Spartan race. It was a fun way to get outside, move my body, and be surrounded by people who enjoy a challenge.
Engage in other hobbies
Because training for races is time consuming, it’s possible you pushed some hobbies to the side. Now is the perfect time to revisit other activities that bring you joy. For example, is there a book you’ve wanted to read? How about some projects around your home?
Additionally, traveling might be more manageable now that weekly long runs are not in your schedule. Take advantage of more free time on the weekends to see people and places that you may not normally visit while deep in training.
Related: How to Recover From a Marathon
Stay connected to the running community
Keep in mind, just because you’re not in the depths of training doesn’t mean you need to isolate yourself from all things running. There are plenty of ways to stay connected even without training for a race. In fact, engaging with the running community in new ways can lift your spirits and excite you about returning to more structured training after the off-season. It’s possible you:
- Write a race report
- Volunteer for a race
- Pace a friend
- Spectate a race
- Join a local running group
Brainstorm future goals
While recovery continues to be the main priority, you can certainly start thinking about future running goals. For instance, ask yourself questions like:
- Which race or distance is tugging at my heart strings?
- Am I eager to venture out to the trails?
- Do a friend and I want to run a destination race together?
Now is the perfect opportunity to research different races, think about new goals, and see where your next training cycle could take you. The most important thing is that whatever you choose to do next excites you and brings a smile to your face!
Unsure How to Navigate the Post-Race Blues?
Or, are you wondering what your next steps with running could be? I would love to help you brainstorm and figure out the best path for you. Email me at [email protected] or check out my Run Coaching Services page to learn more.
Have you ever experienced the post-race blues?
If so, how did you work your way through?