Does anyone else get down in the dumps, sleepy, cranky, and blue after a big race? Ok, me too. Like big time. It’s weird because you’d expect to feel accomplished and grateful for a break in training. After months and months of hard work, you’ve accomplished a big goal and you can now sleep in past 5 a.m. on a Saturday. That sounds great in theory, but for some reason it doesn’t feel great.
If you clicked on this post looking for advice on the topic, I have a few ideas, but I’m no expert. All I know is that the struggle is real and you’re not alone. Many of us find ourselves moping around and slightly lost.
I think the important thing is to recognize that you’re not crazy. The first time I experienced the post-race blues, I kept wondering what the heck was wrong with me. I was also mad at myself for not feeling proud and happy after a great race. Being sad is already hard enough, don’t be angry or disappointed on top of that.
Understand and appreciate that you just spent the past 4-6 months focused on a goal and you trained 5+ times a week to work towards that single goal and now it’s over. Done. Bye. Yes, it was an accomplishment but it’s still over – and that is kind of sad.
Many of us make sacrifices, prioritize our training and our sleep, and cut out other things we usually have time for. Once the race is over, we have newfound free time that we don’t quite know what to do with. This can either drive us crazy or we can choose to embrace it. This is a great time to do some goal setting and journaling. It’s also the perfect opportunity to catch up with family and friends (over the phone if they’re far away). Try new restaurants, go to the movies, stay up too late, take a walk, go to yoga.
I made after work plans with friends almost every single night of the week after my race. I also went holiday shopping after work instead of going home to sit on the couch. I devoured a couple books and made a list of what I will read next. I went out for drinks and stayed out later than usual. Granted, I was hungover and unhappy the next day, but I was embracing my extra free time.
Basically, my point in all this is to tell you that it is not only ok, but it’s common, to feel less happy than usual after a big race. You put your body (and mind) through a lot – be easy on yourself. Slowing down is good for you. Resting is great. Enjoy the free time and don’t rush back into training. As backwards as this may sound, you need this time for your mental health. We can’t always be training, working and grinding – we must also be still and chill at times. Way easier said than done and this is essentially a pep talk for myself. 🙂
I was back to my 6:15 a.m. runs with Sheri along the coast this week, and almost immediately, I felt whole again. I’m also being careful as to not overdo it and I’m trying to slow down and mix it up. My next race will come soon enough, so for now, I will enjoy easy runs and time with family and friends over the holidays. I won’t stress over my low mileage or my rest days and I will find other things that bring me joy (like books, fancy lattes, my new favorite restaurant, and other people’s babies).
Have you experienced the post-race blues?
How do you deal with it?