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.
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.
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.