Have you ever run a stellar race and walked away feeling sad? Or maybe you were down in the dumps a few days after an amazing race experience and couldn’t figure out why. Feelings of sadness, fatigue, or disappointment after finishing a race — regardless of how well or poorly you performed — can be attributed to the post race blues. And they’re not uncommon at all. I know tons of people who experience the post race blues. In fact, I’ve been suffering from the post race blues myself since Sunday — and I had an outstanding race!
I’m not a sports psychologist so please remember this is a personal blog and not a medical journal. This post is opinion only and is meant for general entertainment purposes only. Please note the sprinkled in sarcasm and humor throughout. Enjoy!
The post race blues can be a big bummer. I had an interesting text discussion going with my friend earlier on Tuesday. I was telling her (of course) that I never wanted to run a distance race again. If you’re a distance runner, tell me (truthfully) how many times have you said that yourself? She assured me it was the post race blues talking, and I had to agree.
Running a race is hard — regardless of distance. If you’re truly racing and putting forth a ton of energy, power, and effort into your run, you’re going to feel like you were hit by a freight train the next day. That’s just how it goes with these things. It’s no wonder an activity that depletes you so much physically would deplete you mentally as well. Let’s dig deeper.
Dealing with the Post Race Blues (Or, “I’m Never Running Another Marathon Again!” Syndrome)
Signs and Symptoms of the Post Race Blues
This list of signs and symptoms is not all-inclusive. It’s fairly vague and generalized — purposefully so. The signs and symptoms of the post race blues vary from race to race and person to person. You may not be affected at all, or you may experience some variation of the blues after every race. Here are a few signs and symptoms of the post race blues:
- overall sentiment of “never doing that again!”
- analyzing and reanalyzing race day performance
- disinterested in running or other physical activity
- sadness that a race is over
Causes of the Post Race Blues
The post race blues can be caused by a few things. In my experience, the post race blues are brought on by one of two things: poor race performance OR the ending of a seemingly incredible experience. To me, there’s no gray area. If I have an “okay” race, I likely won’t experience the post race blues quite as much. But throw in some injury or what was an epic race experience like MCM, and you’ve got a recipe for post race blues. Here are some other causes:
- disappointing performance
- a physically hard race
- DOMS and general discomfort
- higher than normal cortisol levels
- the ending of a training cycle
- a super-fantastic race experience suddenly coming to an end
Notice “fatigue” falls in both the symptoms and causes categories. That’s because when you’re tired, everything seems magnified. You could just be tired from your race but if you’ve got the post race blues, it could be exacerbated. Likewise, your fatigue may actually cause you to have the post race blues since your energy levels haven’t quite returned to normal.
Ways to Combat Post Race Blues
There are a few simple steps to combatting the post race blues. If you’re tired, sleep more. If you’re achy or fatigued, find a way to relax — perhaps an Epsom salt bath or a massage. Here are a few things that help me get my head screwed on right after a particularly blues-inducing race:
- rehydrate and refuel properly
- get plenty of rest
- find a way to relax — Epsom salt bath, massage, gentle yoga
- listen to music
- go for a walk
- spend time outdoors
When I’m experiencing the lows after racing, I give myself permission to be down and out for a couple days. Not only do I have extremely low energy anyway, it helps me process the race and my performance. After a couple days, my energy level returns little by little and I’m usually back to normal by the end of the week.
It’s not uncommon to hear marathoners exclaim, “I’m never running a marathon again!” in the moments, and even days, following a marathon. Give those runners about a week and they’ll be back to their stubborn-selves, ready to tackle the next challenge.
TALK TO ME!
Have you experienced the post race blues?
If you’ve run a marathon, how many times have you muttered “I’m never doing that again?”
What’s one thing you do to perk yourself up after a particularly taxing run?