The Post-Race Blues

by Karl Gruber
After many, many long weeks of training, you did it! This past weekend, you successfully ran and completed your goal half or full marathon. That shiny, well-deserved finisher’s medal now hangs gloriously somewhere in your home, providing memories of sweat, laughter and tears; sore feet and legs; and maybe even an age group victory. Plus, you’re still probably getting high fives and congratulations from your friends, family and co-workers.
Now that the race you worked so hard and long to complete is behind you, however, the elation of doing so is starting to wane a bit. Not only that, but you’ve noticed that there may be times where you’ve been a bit grumpy with people, feeling a bit distracted, and seem to have excess energy that you are not used to having. Well, well. Welcome to the post-race blues.
I highly suspect that a case of the post-race blues is not even something that you had previously contemplated. As a matter of fact, you didn’t even know it was a thing, and it’s bugging the heck out of you. What to do? Here’s the general time line of how the post race blues happen…
  • You ran your heart out the last three or four miles of the race, and your thoughts were basically, “Why am I doing this to myself? My legs feel like they’re going to fall off! I am never going to do this again!” 
  • You’ve crossed the finish line, and you’re still swearing up and down that you will never ever run a marathon again, but a big smile breaks across your face once the volunteer hangs that finisher’s medal over your neck.
  • A few days pass and you are starting to feel fairly recuperated - you are no longer so sore that you have to walk down stairs backwards. You’re still occasionally saying that you will never again run a marathon, but you’re also loving the feeling of successfully having conquered that distance.
  • It’s now a couple of weeks after your race; you are completely recovered and feeling strong and whole again. You’ve gone out for three or four short runs just to stay in touch with the road, but now a sense of aimlessness is starting to spread across your psyche.
  • Finally, the post-race blues fully kick in when you realize that you currently have no running goals! For the last several months, your primary focus has been your goal race, and even though it was a huge success for you, now there is a bit of a void – at least as far as your running life is concerned.
Fortunately, the post-race blues are not a life-threatening affliction though they strike hundreds of thousands of runners throughout the world. As for the cure, no medicine nor visits to the doctor are needed. All that is required is a three-step process:
  1. Put on your running shoes.
  2. Walk over to your computer. Search for and choose another half or full marathon approximately six months down the road that you would like to run and sign up.
  3. Head over to the door, and go for your first training run for the race you just signed up for.
Here’s another cure. Make your next long race as a “run-cation,” a half or full marathon that in a place you would also like to vacation in – say the Honolulu Marathon. I have done this myself many, many times, and because it almost always turns into a real memory-maker of a trip, the post-race blues tend not to come on so quickly or may never show up. 
Truth be told, I literally will not even sign-up for a half or full marathon anymore unless it is in a location I have yet to visit. The “run-cation” has appeal to both the newbie distance racers and veteran marathoners. You first-timers are still high off the fact that you conquered 13.1 or 26.2 miles, and now a race in a fun, exotic location beckons. You veteran racers love the fact that you get to check-off another marathon in another state (especially if you are a member of the 50 States Marathon Club).
Even though the post-race blues may settle over you after your race, you can see that there is a way out. Take your time to recover and recuperate from the pounding your body took during that 13.1 or 26.2 mile run, and then, put those running shoes right back on and start your training cycle all over again. You will be glad you did, especially when that ray of light hits your finisher’s medal hanging on the wall and reminds you of why you run and why you race. 

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