Post-Race Depression: Why do we feel it and how do we recover from it?

There are a lot of blogs that will give you the whole guide on how to prepare for a certain race. Like ‘what to do the night before race day’, ‘what to eat for breakfast on the actual race day’ and some ‘how to recover quickly from a race’. But no one is really talking much about the after effect once you’ve done your race. That weird separation anxiety from the finish line that we often feel together with our aching body that begins the morning after.

Your Drive Before The Race

There’s something about the feeling after you signed up for a race, apart from knowing that you’re already committed to doing it. You’ve been training so hard for months and you also changed your diet together with your mindset. You’ve dedicated hours of your thoughts and actions to cross that glorious finish line. And for once, you’ve never been as motivated as it was before. You’re excited to wake up each day for training because your mind and body have something to shoot for! Because the count down to the race day is getting you all pumped up. Basically, it is properly nice to have something to look forward to, right?

And you did it. Congratulations! But somehow after the race is over, you will feel (kinda) depressed.

Anyone else?

I asked runners from Pinoy Fitness Community Facebook group about this and a lot of people have shared their own experiences.

They said, that this phenomenon can have a higher chance to occur after big races. And big races are demanding much longer preparation. So, post-depression blues are triggered because you’ll wake up and you will realize that the race that you’ve been training hard for is already done.

Suddenly, you’re back to square one. All the hype has died down.

The training has become a part of your life, isn’t it? Now that you’re done with it, what’s next? It is the feeling of being directionless. It is the feeling of being overwhelmed by the feeling of being somehow lost.

Also read: My preparation for my first Spartan Race

And when the training plan is over, there’s often a social group associated with training that you’re no longer in constant contact with. It’s so nice to have an athlete support group. A group of brilliant people who will push you to your limits and out of your comfort zone. And you will learn a lot from these individuals! But after race day, it’s the weird feeling of thinking that you’ll all go now into your own separate lives. Everyone becomes busy and most likely, you’ll be left feeling a little lonely. Or maybe we’re just being paranoid? Hmmmm.

Feeling down after a big race is normal. As backed up by science, the feeling of slight depression after a long race could due to temporary chemical imbalance in the brain. I know that this feeling isn’t a popular thought among all runners and athletes but I just want to let you know that it is okay to feel like this.

How do we recover from post-race depression?

As we try to recover physically, it is important to recover mentally too. Always. After the race day, I always make sure to have a recovery workout or a good 5km recovery run the next day. And I also make sure that my mental health is well pampered as well. Like catching up with my friends or a trip to my favorite ice-cream parlor.

Eat. Yes, you’re allowed to eat anything by now. You’ve been dieting for so long so how about a nice quality Samgyupsal? And do I hear Soju? Hell yes! Do it. Invite your closest friends. You deserve it.

Taking some time off also helps. Remember that you actually have all your time now. How many books, movies, and social activities did we intentionally and unintentionally turned down while we are preparing for a race? Probably countless. It’s your turn to spend time with friends and family. You just run a marathon? Now it’s a movie marathon.

And you might as well want to seek some support! Blues are felt less painful when you know you’re not the only one suffering from it. Go ahead and vent out. There is a lot of fitness community out there that will embrace you whole and will listen to your thoughts. No matter how weird they may be.

Or perhaps the best thing to do? Plan for another race. When you’re fully recovered physically, go out of that couch and sign up for another race. Keep moving forward, take the new challenge, do new things as you let your curiosity be your guide. Start training again. And you know what, I learned that what we don’t normally recognize, is that oftentimes, the most enjoyable part of something is actually preparing for it.

I hope we all recover from our own little post-race blues as we keep on pushing ourselves to run, one mile at a time.

Until our next finish line,

Marron xx

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