When training for an “A” race, it’s easy to get used to the hustle and bustle of a structured workout routine. For some, their social life may take a hit when training is at it’s highest. For others there may be some sacrifices in their diet. Whatever the lifestyle changes are, they become a choice, not a sacrifice after a while.
Post-marathon (or any other distance), the post-race blues are not an imaginary thing. It happens to many runners, and may feel like a strange emotion to have after a big accomplishment. Having a good cry, or thorough debriefing time after a race, is healthy. It allows you to feel all of the emotions that come with achieving a goal that may not have surfaced on the day.
Big races and goals require incredible focus and dedication. That’s what makes the culmination of efforts so sweet on race day, or so bitter if it goes sideways. Whatever the result is, accomplishing a big goal can leave people feeling a little lost once it’s all said and done. So what do you do once the race ends? If you’re feeling a little lost, keep these things in mind to help you get back on track.
Bask in the rest
Your body needs a rest after a big effort not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too. It’s incredibly draining to work so hard for so long, so let all of your systems recover. Physically you might feel good to get back on the training horse after a few days, but your body will need at least week or two to fully recover.
Mentally, you need a break from structured training as it took a lot of mental focus to make it through an entire training block. Emotionally, you’ve challenged yourself to do something outside of your comfort zone. By either trying a new distance, or aiming to set a new personal best, you became vulnerable in doing so and letting those who are nearest and dearest to you what you wanted to do. All those things take energy, and combined can be exhausting. After the race, let all of those elements recover and rebuild for the next thing.
Enjoy the break in routine
Regimented training is great, and allows for consistency. It’s not until the end of a build, when the race is done, that you realize just how much time all that training took. While recovering and determining what your next challenge will be, enjoy the time away from structure. If you would rather nap instead of running, you can do so without guilt. If you want to hike with friends, or go skiing, or just try something new, now’s the time! Go out, have fun, and spend quality time with the people who supported you on your journey.
Start to plan
After a certain amount of time, most runners become antsy. It’s at that time that you start to scheme and plan the next race for the race calendar. When the fire has ignited again to start back into training, you’ll know it’s the right time. It’s worth taking a few days to ease back into things, and not go too crazy right off the bat. Use the previous race’s experience to devise a plan that will put you in an even better position for the next build. Think about adding in other workouts, or cross-training, or strength/core work. All these elements will add diversity to a program and keep things feeling fresh.
Ease into it
After a few weeks off after a race season, it’s important to remember you won’t be starting off exactly where you left off. Some fitness will be lost, and your strength may have decreased. With that in mind, ease back into training with a few shorter runs to start, then add in some strides after runs, then get into workouts. There’s no sense in hammering out a workout on the first day back as it could result in injury, or in muscle soreness that requires a few days off to alleviate it. Take your time getting back into a routine, add in some cross-training to avoid intense DOMS, and remember to have fun.
Like anything, there are ebbs and flows with training cycles. While it may feel hard to take a break after a great race, it’s necessary. Your body will thank you for the time off, and will be ready to take on whatever is thrown at it next. So, enjoy the down time and you’ll be ready to rock for any subsequent races!