A first-time marathon finisher recently confessed to me that, rather than wanting to celebrate her accomplishment, she felt sad and disappointed after her race. It may sound crazy to some, but her experience is actually pretty common among runners. After spending months training and focusing on a goal, it abruptly comes to an end once they cross the finish line, leaving them feeling bummed-out, disconnected, and even depressed. Even if the race went well, you may feel sad and a bit lost now that it’s over. Those feelings can wreak havoc on your running habit, since you may start feeling so bummed out that you just want to stop running altogether.
Here are a few ways to cure or at least ease the pain of the post-race blues:
Even if you don’t expect to get bummed-out once your race is over, it’s good to be ready for it just in case. Make plans for the weeks following your race, so that you’ll be distracted from that disappointed feeling. Some runners like to plan a big trip right after a marathon or other big race because they’re able to relax and recover from the race and, now that the race is over, they don’t have to worry about serious training while they’re away.
Keep your running habit going.
You don’t have to train at the same intensity or run the distances you did when you were in training mode. But don’t get out of the habit of running, since not running for a week or two may make it very difficult to re-start your habit. And, as a result, you may start to feel even worse about yourself once you realize that you lost your momentum and established habits. Commit to a set schedule, such as running three days a week, to maintain your focus and motivation. The endorphins that you get after you’ve completed a run will help you break out of your post-marathon funk.
Set new goals.
Some people start feeling disappointed because they no longer have a major goal to focus on. Setting a new goal is especially helpful if your race didn’t go the way you had hoped it would. But your goal doesn’t have to be a race of the same distance that you just ran – you may want to focus on running faster at a shorter distance, or try something completely new like a triathlon or cycling event. Having another goal to focus on will help you stick to your running habit.
Get back to your pre-training life.
You most likely had to neglect some friends and family members to make time for training, so post-race is the time to reconnect with non-running people in your life, and get back to activities that you’ve missed. Doing things other than running will remind you that it’s not the sole focus in your life.