5 Tips for Recovering from the Post-Race Blues

How to Get Over Feeling Sad After a Marathon or Other Race

Are you feeling the post-race blues? It's very common for runners to feel bummed-out, disappointed, sad, maybe even depressed after they finish a big race, like a marathon. After spending months training hard and focusing on a goal, you feel down and disconnected once the race is over. The training and preparation that was such a big part of your life and now it's gone.

The good news is that there are ways to fight the post-race blues, or, at least, soften the blow. Here are some things to try:

Be Prepared for the Letdown

Beach Vacation
Grant Faint

Make plans for the weeks following your big race, so that you'll be distracted from that disappointed feeling. I know a lot of runners who plan a big trip after a marathon, which works perfectly if you're already traveling to the race destination.

Relaxing on a beach or enjoying sightseeing will be a nice way to celebrate your accomplishment.  The timing works on two levels – you don't have to worry about training while you're away, and the traveling prevents you from getting bummed-out that your race is over.

Review Your Race -- and then Move On

Woman writing in notebook
Gianni Diliberto/ GettyImages

If part of your sadness is because you weren't happy about your performance, take some time to think about what went wrong. You may even want to write about it in your training journal or blog, to help you work through it. Many runners write down a "Lessons Learned" list. These are useful because you can include the positive things you learned as well as the negative. Writing it down can help end your continuous mental rehashing. Don't dwell on it – spend a little analyzing it, and then move on to start thinking about your next race.

Appreciate Your Free Time and Reconnect with Friends and Family

Group of young people having a party
Henrik Sorensen/ GettyImages

Once your race is finished, you'll have a lot more time to enjoy parts of your life that you neglected during training. Spend more time with family and friends, catch up on your reading, pick up a new hobby, or get back to any other activities that you sacrificed while training. Plan ahead and make dates with friends and families soon after the marathon so you can jump back into being social. Plus, you'll have some new stories to tell them about your race.

Set a New Goal

Marathon Runners, Florence
Mark A Leman/Getty Images

The best way to cure the post-race blues is to decide what you want to do next. It doesn't have to be a big race, like a half or full marathon. You may want to train for a 10K, or just aim to run at least three days a week. You may even decide to try a totally new sport, like swimming or biking, to supplement your running.

Savor Your Accomplishment

Adam Orzechowski/Getty Images

Do a little bragging and make sure you have a prominent reminder -- a medal, bib, finisher's certificate, or photo -- of your race, so you don't lose sight of your achievement. And don't forget this quote from Dr. Seuss: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." Treat yourself to a special marathoner's keepsake or a piece of marathon jewelry to celebrate your accomplishment.

Also see:
What to Do After You Finish a Marathon

If You are Depressed - Get Help

If these simple self-help tips aren't enough and you are still feeling depressed, seek help. The marathon and other long races can alter your body chemistry and you may need more than self-help to overcome the changes. Clinical depression can be deadly, don't wait to seek assistance.

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