Whether you’ve finished the one main event you’ve been training for, or several races as part of a season, it is completely normal to come down with a case of the post-race or post-season blues. If your “A” race is done, or the main event is over, no matter how well you did, there is a period of letdown. The event is finished, the race stories for the day are written, everyone has gone home and the party is over. You may feel as a child does, or you still do :), after all the presents have been opened on Christmas morning. With the feelings of excitement, anticipation, planning and preparation for the big day suddenly dissipated, it is easy to feel temporarily lost.
With my last race of season complete last weekend, I got thinking about what are the best ways to handle any feelings of post-race blues and make the beginning of the “off-season” as blissful as possible. Expecting and preparing for a bit of letdown time is half of the battle. Here is what has helped me enjoy and get the most out of this short period of re-balancing, renewing, and refocusing on what’s next….
1. I take some real time off training. I give myself permission to do absolutely NOTHING physical for at least a week to 10 days other than walks to the park with my kids and stretching. Usually, I get physical withdrawal symptoms earlier than that and feel like doing something. But I just wait until my body says, “I can’t stand this any longer, take me out the door for a little run at least!”
2. I indulge a little in all the forbidden foods I usually cut way down on when in serious training and racing mode. After a maximum of a few days of eating too much chocolate, chips, donuts etc the yuckiness I feel is enough to remind me why “everything in moderation” is the way to go and return to asap!
3. Before the off-season officially begins, I have a list of things I’m looking forward to doing, any projects I’ve had on the backburner all season. All those, “if I wasn’t training/racing so much, I’d take more time to….” Things like projects around the house that have been pushed down the priority list for several months as well as spending extra time with friends and family.
4. After some real time off, I start a fun “active rest” phase for about a month. When my body is itching to start moving agian, I do what feels good. I enjoy some “training” that might not be a regular part of my structured training routine, things like yoga, pilates, hiking, or fun social runs with no pacing/distance agenda. And I do enough so that the transition back to full on training again isn’t too painful.
5. Of course, part of the post-season blues are related to a sudden lack of goal focus. So it can be a fun time to take some time to plan out any events I’m going to compete in next season. I reflect on any races I’d love to do again, new ones to try, or ones I swear I won’t do again!
6. Once I’ve had a good body and mind break from sructured training and am feeling recharged, renewed and fully motivated to get back to work, it is time to sit down with my coach and get into the serious details of week by week training plans again. Of couse, I like to make sure this is well underway before the holiday season, so I can afford my beloved eggnog lattes and other occoasional goodies (in moderation of course) around Christmas!