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Congratulations! You finished your big, milestone race! Um, now what?

by Athletico7 Comments

Welcome to post-race letdown. It is completely normal and even inevitable to feel a big letdown after a milestone race. Being the type-A person most athletes are, you’ve trained and sacrificed for months preparing yourself and now just like that, it’s done. Hopefully race day went well and you achieved your goal, but even if you didn’t, the feelings are the same. You have been focusing on that event for months and now it’s over. It’s easy to let that bring you down, but you don’t have to let that happen. This post will give hints on how you can avoid post-race letdown.

Rest and Relish

The first thing to do to avoid post-race letdown is to rest a bit and to relish your accomplishment not only on race day but over the months you prepared. We are so conditioned to think the race itself is the achievement. Actually, the training and visualizing the accomplishment of your goal can be even sweeter than race day itself. Think about it, even if you had a rotten race day, just showing up to the start line is a huge achievement. Every year 45,000 people pay $150 each to register for the Chicago Marathon, but this year only 37,421 of those registered racers actually finished the race. So it’s important to keep things in perspective. It’s not the end of the world if you have a bad race. Honestly, most people you tell about the race don’t know the difference between a fast time and terrible time. Your family and friends still love you, and most of them are in complete awe of what you’ve just done. Feel your disappointment, but then let it go or use it to make your next race better. A sub par result can be a big motivator moving forward, but right after the race, you need to rest and relax.

Ironically, you usually feel worse if you had an amazing race. You set out a plan, worked hard and you achieved your goal! Um.. now what? Getting caught up in bigger, faster, better can be very dangerous. You can’t enjoy the success you achieve and can end up with nagging overtraining injuries. Trust me, I’ve been there. Don’t let that happen to you. Take that same amount of time afterward and enjoy your success. Thank everyone who was so supportive of you during training and be a bit humble. After all, there’s always someone faster, so don’t become a bore. Just like you can use a sub par result to motivate you, you can do the same with a good result. Use a good day to elevate you to a higher level, but enjoy the race you just finished and be proud of the dedication and hard work that got you there.

Take Care of Yourself

After resting, the next biggest components to avoiding post-race letdown are making sure you take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Whether or not you had a good or bad day, spend time with your loved ones doing things that are not related to your sport. Ask them what they want to do and do it! You may find yourself eating food that you wouldn’t be caught dead consuming while in training or spending a long day lazing around in a bookstore rather than doing a high intensity track workout. It will be good to rest your over trained legs and emotionally to be with people who love you even if you didn’t qualify for the Boston Marathon!

Training for a big race is similar to achieving any big goal. It takes sacrifice, work, and planning. The big day arrives, and it passes so quickly. On race day, take some time and look around. Appreciate what an amazing community the running community is. Be excited! Be grateful for your big day regardless of your results, take time to remember what got you there, and thank those that helped you. Reflection is wonderful. Try not to label a day as good or bad. Be content with what the day brings you. If you do this, you’ll be ready for a new challenge quickly.

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  1. Jimmy Townsend

    This was my first full marathon, even though I did not post the time that I wanted l can truly say that the bank of America marathon is truly a first class event. I hope l have the opertunity to do it again.

  2. Bill Janis

    What a great article. I needed it. I’m 61 years old and last year the NYC marathon was my first marathon. Although I was 2:08 at 13.1 I cramped up and finished at 5:28. I wanted to redeem myself and although I was 2:00:41 at 13.1 in Chicago, I got tripped up and twisted my knee and finished in 5:01:04. I definitely felt a huge letdown but feel much better after reading this. I’ll be back to try again.

  3. Paige Long

    This article was great. I was trying to qualify for Boston and was 2 minutes off. It is hard for me to relish in my achievement when I did not meet the goal. Thank you for reminding me that a marathon is a big deal! I didn’t even enjoy the city where I was born because I was so focused on pushing myself the whole race. Oh what we put ourselves through!! I love Chicago, I will be back to my hometown to just enjoy! I will, however, qualify the next time I run a marathon…just saying.

  4. Sandra

    This was my 3rd marathon and absolutely can say this was the BEST well organized race. The volunteers and spectators were amazing. I took it easy since I’m also running MCM in 2 weeks. I finished and was super excited. Hopefully I will be able to come back for the 40th Chicago Marathon.

  5. russell scott

    Too bad hundreds of us who were over 6:30 were left without aid stations, water, mile markers, and finish line. Quite dangerous on a hot day!!

  6. Theo Whitehurst

    The Chicago Marathon Race, on Oct. 11th, was unbelievable. I finished and I was very pleased. At the Expo, on Sat, after I picked up my packet, I was still not sure I could and would run on S

  7. Theo Whitehurst

    I was pleased and satisfied to finish the BOA Chicago Marathon on Oct 11th in 6:08. On Sat., at the Expo, I decided to return to the hotel because my back was hurting after getting my packet. At that point, I was not even sure of being able to start. Then, on race day, all the excitement, the spectators, the runners, my running buddy, and our wives made the effort painless. I started slower than I typically run and I kept my pace steady to the finish. After 20 miles, if I felt like walking I did, and I walked and ran the last 10K. Crossing the finish line, for me, was unbelievable. Over more than 300 races to my success over the years, my first Abbott WMM, was the most organized, eventful, exciting and colorful representation of a truly amazing running experience. I indeed will enter the lottery next year with the anticipation to rerun Chicago Marathon again in ’16. It should definite be a “bucket list” item for all runners. Thanks to all who make this running event a success.

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