Post-Race Blues – 10 Ways to Put the Blues Behind You
Have you felt tired, sluggish, maybe even a little down and out after a big race? You might have even placed first in your age group, beat a personal best, or heck maybe you placed first for the entire race. Athletes in all genres of sports love the training, love the racing, and love the sweet smell of victory and accomplishments. With all those peaks and highs, eventually, you might find yourself plummeting downward after a big sports race or competition. If this happens to you, be sure to pack these 10 steps to beating the post-race blues like a parachute and pull the ripcord to help you land safely.
1. Prepare yourself for the possibility of post-race blues
Knowing what’s coming might help stave off a rocky bottom. For some athletes, they experience little or no post-race blues. For others, it could take days, weeks, or even months (if injuries occur) to level out those down feelings. By preparing yourself you can be preemptive and throw up a shield so you aren’t caught off guard and wallow too much.
2. Start thinking about the next race
A good way to push through the blues is to have a plan of action of what is to come next. Signing up for a race prior to you finishing your current training event could benefit you in many ways. After you cross the finish line for your current event your mind already knows that you are going to start training in the near future.
3. Remember what you’re grateful for
A great way to remember what you’re grateful for is by writing down 3 things every day. Keep up this habit for about two weeks or until you feel yourself coming out of the blues. Some of us already journal and write these things down habitually. Others just run the thoughts through our minds as to what we give thanks for.
4. Talk to your coach or running club/community about post-race blues
It’s great to have a sounding board to talk about running and the blues. Coaches, running partners, running clubs, and the running community are great ways to talk through your blues. Many athletes experience the post-race blues and have been in the same spot as you. Having someone to guide you through these feelings could be a quick way to bounce back out of the muck.
5. Rest and Recovery
If this was the last big race of your training cycle then it might be time for some longer rest and recovery periods. These are two needed process that every athlete of every level need. It can be difficult for a lot of the elite athletes to rest. I personally start getting a little edgy if I haven’t run in three days.
If having the post-race blues isn’t enough, what if it’s coupled with a big disappointment, like not meeting your goal race pace or time, or worse a major injury. When you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to try to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. If an injury occurs the athlete will typically go through such as denial, anger, acceptance, renewal of training efforts. Also, if your starting to feel really lousy and depressed you might seek clinical professional help if there is an implication of a broader mental depression.
Here is a more detailed half marathon recovery checklist article I wrote.
7. Focus on the training and process
Instead of focusing on the end result of the race, concentrate on the actual training process you followed that got you to the race. This same training process will help you get out of your post-race blues after your recovery time. Look back at your running logs, (please tell me you keep running logs – if not start today!), to see how far you’ve come. Be proud of your accomplishments, even if they weren’t as ideal as you wanted.
Take a look at pictures and videos of your past race events. Seeing yourself in those victory poses helps remind you of all of the accomplishments you’ve smashed in your past.
After my 10th half marathon race, I decided to take a break from running. I didn’t take running back up for 4 weeks. During that time off I stayed active in different sports such as walking, hiking, snowboarding, and indoor soccer.
Use this time to take on projects that you might have put off during your training cycle such as simple house projects. Plan some time for vacation or extra time spent with your family and friends.
9. Find a second sport
I love running, but it’s not the only sport I participate in. Finding additional ways to stay active besides running is important. You don’t want to sit around and do nothing. I spend a lot of time during the post-race phase, walking or easy hiking. Cycling or mountain biking could also be another sport to take on, especially if you want to move into triathlon events one day.
10. Visually remind yourself
Before your big race is over go ahead and have a calendar posted with your next race or training cycle dates clearly marked. You might even consider making multiple calendars and placing them in locations where you will see them multiple times a day, like a refrigerator or your office.
Most importantly, remember that the post-race blues should only be temporary. If you find yourself feeling these blues sneaking in on you, hopefully, this list will help push you through the down and out trenches a little quicker.Scott Morton is the author of, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 10 half marathon race. He is also an RRCA certified coach.
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