How to Deal With the Post-Race Blues

by Karl Gruber
Well, you did it! Yes, that marathon or half marathon is now in your rearview mirror. All of those long weeks and months of training — through wind, rain, sleet and/or snow — paid off. And it doesn’t matter if this was your very first marathon or your 100th race, it still feels the same — satisfying! 

You know you gave it your all through 26.2 miles or 13.1 miles. That’s where the satisfaction comes from, in knowing you left it all out there on the race course, no matter if it was a personal best or a personal worst. Some days, you can go to the start line feeling fantastic and yet run horribly. Other days, the opposite is true.

While the feeling of satisfaction comes any time you conquer the beast known as the full or half marathon, you should also expect the post-race blues after every race. The post-race blues is that feeling you get when the satisfaction of having completed your full or half marathon starts to fade. For many months prior to your race, you became accustomed to the daily routine of getting your miles and workouts in. You’re now used to meeting up with your running group every Sunday morning, but now the void of those things no longer being a part of your daily life starts to hit home. 

Consider the word “void.” A void is a place of emptiness, and without that daily training routine, I can guarantee that it will strike you post-race.

Enjoy Some Down Time
Even though the post-race blues may have settled over you, take time to enjoy some down time from the structured training routine and hard running. Your body just accomplished something far above what you thought it was capable of, and now it may be screaming out for rest, recovery and time to heal. 

Give your body its due — its reward for a job well done during 26.2 or 13.1 miles. And while your body recovers, it’s okay to be a “slug” for a little while and enjoy the down time. However, don’t stay in this mode for too long; otherwise, getting back into racing shape will be a long, arduous climb back up.

Run Just to Run 
One way to work through these post-race blues is to simply go out for some easy-peazy, running-for-the-sake of running jogs. When I finished running my 52nd marathon in 52 weeks in 1997, I did not run a lick for six weeks — just to recover from the beating my body took over the full year of marathoning. When I did start running again, I left my watch at home and went out for one to four-mile easy-paced run. It was the first time in a long time that I had simply gone out for a run just to enjoy the fact that I can run! 

Believe me, it was a bit of revelation and inspired me to get back out on the road on a daily basis. You too can experience this same feeling by just running to run after your race. And as you do this, you will notice that those post-race blues of yours slowly fade away.

Plan Your Next Race
Another very good way to rid yourself of those post-race blues is to start planning for your next full or half marathon. There’s obviously no need to rush into it, but do an online search for a marathon you’ve always wanted to run, in a place you’ve always wanted to visit, and plan a “run-cation.” 

Once your body has had the down time to recover and heal, you can slowly get back into the cycle of yet another round of long, slow build-up to marathon distance. You will come back refreshed, both physically and mentally, ready to run.

Try Cross Training
Another thing you can try during the time in between your just-finished race and the start of your new full or half marathon training cycle is cross training.

Cross training, in this case, is cycling, swimming, weight workouts, elliptical machines, walking, hiking, yoga, meditation, aerobic classes, etc. Cross training will not only stress your body’s muscles in a new way to make you stronger, but it is simply is a nice change of pace mentally from the grind of daily running. And once you get back into your marathon training routine, the cross training will pay dividends because you have enhanced other areas of your body that you would not have done so by just running.

The lesson here on overcoming your post-race blues is to not let it get you down! Take time to go through the lower cycle of activity, and then via the suggestions above, come back and work your way back up to another marathon notch in your belt and hopefully a new PR! 

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