Thursday, October 6, 2016

Dealing with Post-Race Blues

This past weekend was my big goal race for 2016: the Cuyamaca 100K. It was a beast of a race but I finished and I'm happy with that. I'll have a race recap soon, but I first wanted to talk about something many runners experience: the post-race blues. This is when you run your big race and afterward you feel sort of depressed and lost. If you think about it, it makes sense. You spend all this time and energy on this big event for weeks and months. You literally spend hours and hours planning, running, maybe traveling to get there, agonizing over details. Then it arrives. You run. Maybe you finish well and reach whatever goal you may have for the race, maybe you don't. Not reaching your goals can be devastating. And even if you do reach your goals, you may still feel let down at the end because the focus of your time and energy is over. You're left feeling, "well, now what?"

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Be sure to check them out when you're done reading here!

I have to admit, I only sort of have the blues. I am happy that I have a bit of a break from running but I do feel a little aimless as I don't really know what I'm doing for the foreseeable future. I have some health stuff I need to take care of so that is my top priority right now and I won't be able to run for some time. But once I'm recovered, I'm just going to see what happens. So, in the meantime, here's how I like to deal with the post-race blues:

1. Revel in the recovery. You worked hard for this. You busted your butt every single week for months to get to your race. Early mornings. Late nights. Dedication is exhausting. Take the time you need to rest up and recover from your race. There are differing theories on how much time you need to recover but a good rule of thumb is at least a few days to a couple of weeks off after your run, depending on the distance you ran, how hard you raced and how you feel. You can run/walk or just walk in that time but I wouldn't do any real training. The time immediately following a tough race effort is prime time for getting hurt if you don't take the time to rest and recover. You've earned it, now enjoy it.

2. Try something new. If you are taking a little break from running, this is a great time to try something new or re-ignite your love for something else. Cross training is also a great way to recover because you are moving your body in a different way than when running. You are also taking a break from the impact your body endures when pounding the pavement. Your body will thank you for giving it a chance to move in different ways. I can't wait to get back on my yoga mat!

3. Volunteer and/or spectate a race. Since I know I'll be taking a break from running for a bit, that doesn't mean I need to take a break from races. I plan on volunteering and spectating during this time. It's a great way to be a part of the community as well as remind me why I love this sport.

4. Spend time with running friends doing non-running things. Who says you can only see your running buddies on the run? Go out for coffee or lunch. Maybe see a movie. All the things you love to chat about while on the run are just as funny and wonderful when chatting over coffee.

5. Sign up for another race. If you're feeling aimless and like there is nothing to look forward to, maybe start looking for other races. Just be sure you give yourself enough time to recover from your last race and enough time to prepare for the new race. This is helpful if your race didn't go the way you were hoping it would. When in doubt, consult a coach for advice on training. I happen to know a good one :)

Do you get the post-race blues? How do you deal with the let-down after a race?

20 comments:

  1. Congrats on your race! I can say I have never had the post race blues because I am always SO happy to be done with the training...lol. I usually have some sort of race or trip planned to keep me looking forward to what's next though.

    I liked your thought process on this and have heard people say the same thing about planning weddings!

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    1. Yeah I'm not too upset to be taking a break right now. It's been a long year of training!

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  2. I don't always get the post race blues--and then there was Big Sur, when I came home on a high, feeling so awesome, and boom--back to reality after my son broke his leg that weekend after we got back. Blues? You bet.

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    1. Yeah, reality kinda takes the fun out of a race finish.

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  3. I agree with your tips! I try to volunteer after races myself. I think coming off a big race makes you an awesome volunteer! A week fter my first marathon (which was in the cold rain) I volunteered a local marathon, and it happened to be a cold rain for that race, too. I specifically remember being as cheerful as I could be to help the runners. I'm a big fan of volunteering!

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    1. You are absolutely right! I can't wait to volunteer more during this break!

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  4. I always have that same now what feeling after I train for something big. It's a strange thing to have more time back and pent up energy.

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    1. Exactly. That's why I try to cross train so I can channel my energy. Otherwise I'd go crazy!

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  5. I had serious post-race blues after I finished training for a marathon and was injured during the final week of tapering. I never made it to the starting line as a result. So, even though I didn't race, I had the blues for quite a while afterward because I had trained so hard with a great group of friends and was going to miss them during and after the race. My original coach was not able to finish our training with us, so that was also a bummer. I think the way I dealt with it was to stay in touch her and with my running buddies over the next 6 or 8 weeks on Facebook and at small get-togethers, but it was hard. So, I think your advice about having non-running time with your running group is spot on. It definitely helped me.

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    1. Runners make the best friends, both on and off the roads!

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  6. Hmmm, I don't think I've ever had the post race blues. I think I ride the high as long as I can until I'm ready for the next one. Or maybe I just really need the break afterward. Haha. Great post!

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    1. This is the first time in over 2 years that I don't have another race around the corner. I definitely need this break and I'm not blue about it either!

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  7. I have serious post race blues- especially after anything run Disney! The hype and experience is so crazy and charged with energy for those races that the prospect of not doing another one for a while can send me into a serious funk! I race a lot, so I typically get post 'season' blues once race season is over and I don't have any races on the calendar. Usually for us here in Florida that's May-September ish.

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    1. I hear you! That's where I'm at right now - this last race was the big one for me and I don't have anything else for the rest of 2016 except volunteering and the goal race for my running program. It's weird not having anything on the calendar. And I can see why the runDisney events can lead to a funk because they're pretty amazing events.

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  8. I'm in awe - congrats! But yes, I hear you. The post race depression can be very real!

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    1. Thank you!! I haven't quite sunken into full blown depression yet but definitely feel a little aimless.

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  9. Thanks for the warning I tend to get sad after big events that require a lot of planning, for example my sisters wedding :( I appreciate the feedback and will be ready to start another activity after my big race. Thanks for the heads up. Congrats on your race.

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    1. I definitely think it's like post-wedding blues. I think giving yourself time to recover is helpful but having another goal to focus on after recovery may help decrease that post-race blues feeling.

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