Embrace the Post-Race Blahs

By: Brad Deel

One of my Facebook friends ran a goal half marathon recently and has been in kind of a running funk since then.  She tried to run 6 miles the other day and only made it 2 before calling it quits.  The same thing happened to me after the Marshall University Marathon in November.  That was my goal race for the year and I was fortunate to meet my goal of running it in under 3 hours.  I was elated at that accomplishment but I then spent the rest of November recovering from that race.  A long recovery is normal for an all-out marathon but I ran much lower mileage in December than I wanted and repeated that lack of mileage in January.  Moreover, I wasn't doing any real training - just running some fartleks or a half assed tempo effort on occasion.  I have seen plenty of discussion threads started by people who have recently finished a goal race and seem to have lost their running mojo.  I am wondering whether that funk we feel after a goal race is a net positive for our running.


One of the things professional athletes know is that you cannot be on your "A" game all the time.  That is why they go through periodization and plan out their entire year including the times when they plan to peak and the times when they will take it easy.  As recreational runners, we tend to think that as soon as a goal race is over, we should start training for our next goal race.  But should we?  If the professionals know that they need time to let their bodies and minds recover from hard training, why do we, as recreational runners, think we are immune from needing that same recovery?  Why are we afraid of allowing our bodies and our minds the time to recover from the intensity leading up to a goal race?  


I have long been a proponent of tossing the gadgets and running by perceived effort - especially if you are a newer runner.  I have also long been a proponent of formulating a general idea of a training plan but then tweaking it week by week as you see how you react to the plan.  (I think that mindlessly executing a canned plan is one of the dumber things runners inflict on themselves).  Perhaps that funk we feel after a goal race is simply our body telling us to take it easy for a bit.  Maybe our mind is telling us that it can only maintain that intense level of concentration for so long and it needs a break as well.  


As for me, last week was my first 70+ mile week since October.  That is a long time for me to not have a single 70+ mile week.  This week will be my first 60+ mile week since then and I should be back over 70 in the upcoming week as well.  I have started actually training again rather than just going out and doing some running with fartleks and the occasional moderate tempo run randomly tossed into the mix.  In other words, I have my running mojo back.  I beat myself up through most of December and January because I could not seem to get in the miles and I could not seem to get in the speed work.  Perhaps, unknown to me, that two month respite from higher mileage and hard training was exactly what I needed.  Perhaps some downtime is what we all need after we have put so much of ourselves into accomplishing our running goals.  Perhaps, rather than being upset about the post-race blahs, we should embrace them with the knowledge that our bodies and our minds will let us know when they are ready to focus on the hard stuff once again.


See you out there.

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