How to beat the dreaded post race blues

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Recently I completed the Falls Creek Peaks Challenge after a mammoth eight-month build-up. There was a lot of hard work that went into my preparation and I was completely elated after my race went better than I’d ever planned and I set a huge one hour personal best on my time. Full of adrenaline, pride and happiness, it felt good to celebrate my achievements and be congratulated by so many friends and family. However, not long after the race, I got a case of the sneaky post-race blues.

Haven’t heard about the post-race blues (PRB)? That’s because no one ever talks about it!

Many of my friends are cyclists themselves and only two people asked me a few things along the lines of my mental well-being and “where to next”.

In the lead-up to an important event, your focus is on everything to do with the actual event itself: from the gun to the finish line. But what about what happens after the race? People often give their advice and share ideas about how to train then how to transfer this to the race but what about post-race? We spend so much time and energy training for the event itself that we neglect to prepare for what comes after; and it’s not always positive.

The “Post Race Blues” is that sinking feeling that sets in after the elation and adrenaline subsides. It varies from person to person but it may include:

  •  Lack of motivation to train again.
  •  A sense of apathy
  •  Sadness
  • Lethargy
  • Uncertainty about training goals and plans

You’re now left without a clear goal and/or a structured program. There’s less of the physiological and chemical high we get from hard training sessions.

How to beat the post-race blues

Prepare for it.
You might know in advance, from prior experience, that you’re going to feel a certain way. Prepare yourself for it. Know that there’s a chance it may happen again.

Take the time to reflect on the race and relish in the experience.
You did it! You committed yourself to a goal, worked really hard then achieved it. Congratulate yourself.

Enjoy the things that you might not have been able to in the lead up to the race.
This might simply be time with loved ones, precious sleep ins, more indulgent food or an alcoholic drink.

Try not to over indulge – for too long.
Of course you want to celebrate with a nice meal, a drink or maybe some of those foods you’ve been avoiding for months but don’t go overboard. This can put you at risk of forming bad habits, feeling guilty, struggling with lethargy, or undoing all of your hard work.

Set another goal.
Enter another race, pick another goal or choose something you’re going to be involved with. This is best done before your goal race.

Keep active.
Mix it up with activities by trying a different sport, heading out without a plan or leaving the Garmin behind.

Talk about it.
It is a good idea to have a conversation with someone who may be able to understand how you’re feeling. If you can’t shake the feelings after a few weeks, please consult a professional.

For me, I gave myself a fortnight off – two weeks of enjoying training when I feel like it, with whomever I like – sans technology. I have celebrated with a wine here and there as I haven’t been drinking for a while leading into my race. I’ve enjoyed more yoga classes, enjoyed smash-fest gym sessions without fear of painful rides to follow and been one of those sleep-in-walk-to-café type people on the weekend. Sure, I’ve struggled along the way but having open, honest discussions with friends who are experienced cyclists has helped.

Here’s to setting goals and looking forward to the next build up!

Better known as The Wholesome Athlete, Meg Gillmer is a Sydney-based cyclist and passionate foodie. Currently a student at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, meg is on a mission to bring us all fresh, seasonal and simple food to get the most out of our bodies and move away from processed products. She has previous shared some of her favourite recipes with us here on Ella.

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