RUNNING – Three Ways to Avoid the Post-Race Funk

RUNNING – Three Ways to Avoid the Post-Race Funk

by Diana Palka

In the world of training and racing and blisters and chaffing, there’s something known as the Post-Race Funk (PRF). It’s ever-so-loosely defined as that feeling of “now what” type hopelessness that can sometimes teeter on the edge of feeling like you’re just a little bit depressed.

Picture this: You spent the last five months training for a big race. Your days started early and your nights ended even earlier. You’ve passed up on the Friday evening brewery tours in favor of proper hydration and some quality foam rolling. Your entire schedule – from work trips to family vacations – has been worked around your training schedule. Your extra cash has been devoted to building out your Gu supply and finding the perfect race day singlet.

And then, the whirlwind of race day and before you know it, you’ve crossed the finish line. For about a day or two (depending on how you felt about the race) you get by on the post-race ecstasy of knowing that you did it. Maybe you take a day or two off from training – maybe you take a week’s worth of solid rest. And then you ask yourself, “Now what?”

Often times without a plan, this “now what” mindset can lead to a post-race low that can rob you of the joy you find in running – and even the motivation you have to get back on track again. To avoid a case of PRF, follow these three tips to make sure you’re back on your training A-game in no time.

  1. Have a preset (but flexible) rest planned.
    Before your race, set a predetermined amount of time for which you’ll rest after the race. This will not only enable you to rest “guilt free,” but it will also ensure you don’t go overboard with how much rest you give yourself. If it’s a 5k or a 10k, give yourself 2-3 days off. For longer races like half marathons, full marathons or longer, consider giving your body a week of rest and a week of “active rest” (engaging in cross training activities). Of course, it’s important to be flexible in this predetermined rest period and to listen to your body in the event that you are injured or require a longer rest.
  2. Indulge in a post-race treat.
    YOU JUST FINISHED A RACE! This is something to be celebrated! Treat yourself to something that will help you recover – or maybe something you’ve given up as a part of your training. Schedule a massage. Go on a wine tasting tour. Make a batch of double chocolate brownies and enjoy it a la mode with your favorite kind of ice cream. Sleep in on a Saturday morning. Rewarding yourself on your recent accomplishment can give you just the added boost you need to get back to the routine you crave.
  3. Have another race lined up (and actually sign up for it).
    Pitiful as it is, one thing that’s always motivated me to keep running is knowing that another race is on my calendar. The thought of toeing the line alone is enough to get me out there on the pavement. And “having another race” lined up doesn’t have to mean it’s another pinnacle race or another PR attempt. Even scheduling a 5k or a fun run can be enough to get you back out there and slowly working your way back into a schedule.

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Diana Palka is a Charlotte-based writer; runner; lover of grace, craft beer and the well-written. She has an unbreakable rule that there are three things in life you never buy cheap: shoes, beer and toilet paper. When not working as a Marketing/Communication consultant in Corporate America, she writes for kicks and giggles at www.dianapalka.com.

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The Coach’s Tip

As a runner and a running coach, I know it is so easy to fall off the running and training routine after you have run the race of your life. The challenge of the race which had motivated you to be regular with your exercise and to keep pushing your endurance limits on your long runs and dig deep on those hard speed workouts, has been run and the mission has been accomplished. Or has it?

For some, the answer is yes. The race was a bucket list item and it has been checked off. I have found for most of us, however, there really isn’t a finish line to running. There is always another training season, another race, or another running goal. To avoid the post race motivational let down, the key for those who love running is to be thinking of your future running goal during current training season. What is that next running goal? It doesn’t have to be another race. It could be taking your running in a different direction. Perhaps it is trying trail running, or maybe a fun destination run. It could be signing up for the next organized group training program. By having a longer range goal, it will be much easier to hold onto that fantastic exercise routine.

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Joe Schlereth has completed 148 marathons (PR of 2:40:15) and 165 ultramarathons. He enjoys running on both road and trails. His favorite trail race is the Western States 100 which he finished 12 times, 6 of which were top 10 finishes. Schlereth is an RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) Certified Distance Running Coach. 

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