One of the things I was warned about when training for my first marathon was “After Race Depression”. This as melodramatic as it sounds is a real thing. The amplitude of it depends on your personal scenario. If you’ve trained all year for one big race or you worked for months to crush a PR it can be far more intense than if you run races all year long. The concept is simple: You’ve achieved this big goal so now what?
For weeks, months or an entire year even you have had a goal that you’ve been working towards. Focus, motivation and sometimes even obsession has consumed you. Once it’s gone you can develop an emptiness inside you that was once full. It’s a void, a lack of direction, with nothing to look forward to. After my first marathon it didn’t hit till a month later, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. For several months I stopped running almost completely and felt lost. But you don’t have to feel lost. There are things you can do in advance to help avoid those feelings of loss and confusion.
Tips To Avoid After Race Depression
- Schedule another race shortly after. This helps keep you focused and in shape whether you want to or not. You may give yourself a week of rest, but you can’t stop running all together.
- Make a running schedule and plan at the beginning of the year. Map out your races and training, and if you only have one see the above tip and hop on it.
- Stay Active and Keep Busy! If you want some time off from running sign up for a dance class, a book club, or yoga. Make sure you have other things to take up your time, but also feeds your soul.
- Talk About It. Go to fellow runners, accountability groups, or even a therapist if it’s affecting you drastically. Whenever you are struggling with anything it’s important to talk about it. Sometimes it’s difficult because you don’t even know what to say, but just opening up can be a game changer.
The best advice I can give is to acknowledge what you are going through and prepare for it before hand. If you know what you are facing it’s much easier to manage. All runners go through it at some point. I’ve been through it more than once and am sure I will again. Stay the course, stay strong and know that you’ll be back on track again so long as you don’t give up!