A close friend finished her first half marathon last weekend and confessed to me that while she didn’t love training and she wouldn’t call herself a running junkie, she was over the moon when she completed her race. Like the rest of us, she wore her medal all day, pored over her results and laughed at her race photos.
She woke up the next day and BAM! The joy was gone. It was quickly replaced by an overwhelming feeling of sadness. She considered wearing her medal to work, but even that didn’t help. What the heck was going on?
This sadness is real, and it happens all the time. Some have called it “achievement of goal depression,” but I just refer to it as my “post-race blues.” Here’s what I think happens, and some ways to battle through it next time.
The problem: You’ve been training for months to run your race. It’s over, and you just feel empty. You have a lot of time on your hands, and you’ve gone from 60 to zero and that’s hard. Here are some ways to transition:
- The day after your race, have a meal with friends and share your race experiences. If they ran it too, even better! If not, they’ll still indulge you (even if they think you’re a little crazy when you show them your chafed arms and black toenails).
- Schedule fun events and things to look forward to in the weeks following your race.
- Sometimes signing up for another race helps a lot, but don’t feel guilty if you want a break from running.
The problem: You trained with a friend or a group, and you miss them. This is the hardest for me; seeing the same people week after week and then they’re essentially gone. Here are some ways to fill the void:
- Schedule a happy hour, get together and celebrate.
- Go for a social run. No watches, no pressure, just fun.
- Sign up to do it all over again!
The problem: You didn’t achieve your goal, and you have unfinished business. Not everyone has a specific time goal when running a race, but most of us have something in mind. If you feel disappointed in your result, the post-race blues are amplified. Here are some ways to cope:
- Review your race and what you learned, but don’t dwell on it too much. Every race is different, and you can always try again.
- Take what you learned and turn it into success. Isn’t this where running mimics life? You didn’t fail if you learned something.
Goals are important. They’re what keep us focused and productive. When we achieve them, we feel great, and when they are behind us, we can feel purposeless. This feeling doesn’t last long if you stay positive, reflect aptly and start planning your next challenge. — Amie