How to Beat the Post Race Blues

So you’ve spent months working towards a goal. Rising early, toiling through rain, watching what you eat and being a bit antisocial. Race day arrives and you’re a bundle of nerves. The gun goes off and you set forth on your mission. Hours later you cross the line, filled with pride, relief and a sense of achievement. The following day you rise early once again. Only this time you’re bloody sore and hobbling around, momentarily regretting the exploits of the day prior. But that fleeting thought disappears as you reminisce about how it all unfolded and you relive all the amazing experiences you had along the way. But after a few days you start wondering, ‘where to from here?’

For a lot of us, once the big dance is done, we find ourselves lacking motivation. That drive to tie up the laces and hit the trails for a long run seems to have disappeared. It’s a common phenomenon that not a lot of us talk about. No matter how much we love our running, there are times when it becomes a chore. This is particularly the case when you’ve ticked a bucket list event off the list or worked towards an event for a long period. To help get your mojo back, here’s what I suggest:

  1. Plan your next goal before the first one is done

Having another goal to work towards is one of the best ways to maintain the rage. Don’t put an event too soon in the calendar, but aim for something a few months down the line. You need some recovery and a period to rebuild, so look at an event that’s near enough to keep your eyes on the prize, but not so soon you’re forced to train hard without having rested adequately after the last effort.

  1. Start running again….soon….ish

As stated above, you need some rest. But too often people have a huge block of time off, only to find themselves starting from scratch when they once again get the fire in the belly to race. You should certainly have a few days of complete rest, but I’m a firm believer in keeping moving. A general rule I go by is the have one day off for every 20 kilometers you raced. So a half marathon earns 1 day of complete rest, 100km = 5 days off etc. Take this with a pinch of salt. Older runners and those who suffered greatly during the race need a little more rest. During this time off, it’s good to go on a few walks or bike rides, essentially, keep moving. Then once you start running again, kick things off with an easy 20mins. Add 5 mins a day for a week or so and then introduce some more intensity.

  1. Do something a little different

This applies to both the training you do when you start running again, and the next event you choose to do. In those first few weeks of returning to training, it’s often a good idea to add some diversity to your routine. Pop in some cycling, weights, hiking or hop in the pool. By adding a few new things to the program you’ll feel invigorated. Plus the different type of training stimulus can often be beneficial to your running. Also, choose a race that’s something a little different to what you’d normally have done. Maybe it’s a short event or a road race. Or give a steep mountain run a go. Whatever the case, do something you’ve probably not thought of before. By setting a goal that’s a bit of an outlier, you’ll be inspired to get to work again to see what you’re capable of.

  1. Find a training buddy

By having someone to train with, you’ll be motivated to get out the door. There’s nothing better than sharing the journey with someone, so having a training partner or squad around you turns it into a social occasion, plus of course, you can motivate one another to get through the sessions.

  1. Do the things you missed out on

We typically sacrifice a lot in the lead up to a big race, so once you’ve crossed that finish line, treat yourself to all those things you forewent in the weeks prior. Don’t over indulge, but have a few drinks, sleep in, eat junk food and stay up watching Netflix. It’s like scratching an itch. You’ll feel relief from having a bit of downtime and doing the things you missed out on. Then once you get rolling again, you’ll naturally phase these ‘bad habits’ out as you once again get focussed on the goal you’re working towards.