Battling The Post-Race Slump

Today on the blog we hear from one of our awesome ambassadors Gemma Holly and her running coach, Graham Hand of UP Coaching with some great tips on what you can do to get your mojo back after a big race!

It’s a couple of weeks after your big race and the post-run high has well and truly worn off. It might be quite a while until your next race, and even though you know you’re physically fit, you’re struggling to run even a short distance on the footpath.

So how do you get your mojo back? How do you recover mentally as well as physically in the month or so that follows the “big dance”?

Well the first thing you need to know is you’re not alone! It’s entirely normal to lose your motivation after a big race. A few months ago, Gemma, ran her first ultra-marathon in the Ultra-Trail Australia UTA50.

Following the race, Gemma asked these questions, some of which you may have been asking yourself. The answers are provided by running coach, Graham Hand.

Q: Why don’t I have any energy anymore? My legs are heavy and I feel unfit. I can’t even run 10k!
A: Your body is in a state of repair after the big dance. Do more walking, yoga, swimming and low impact running until your body recovers.

Q: I have no motivation to get out the door. I don’t even want to walk up the stairs in my house, let alone do a stair session at training. Where can I find my mojo?
A: Set some new goals, shift focus to speed over strength for a month and continue the ritual of movement and waking up at the same time. Work on your 5k time and getting that PB down, the rest will come in time.

Q: I’ve been reflecting on my race and feeling like I should have pushed harder or done better. How do I get over this guilt?
A: Racing is unpredictable and unforgiving. Feeling like you could have done better and pushed more is common post-race. When reflecting on the race, draw from the experience so that next year you can alter parts of the race where you thought you could have gone harder and remember the things that worked.

Q: Why am I still always hungry?
A: Your body is trying to maintain the same regime it did pre-race so being hungry is common as your body is trying to maintain the status quo. If your activity level has dropped below your pre-race training regime, then reduce your calorie intake to match your training load. Focus on eating good quality foods that will keep you full for longer and fuel you well when you do train – and don’t forget to drink lots of water.

Q: Some of my toenails are still black. Will I lose them?
A: Yes, new ones will grow and ol’ blacky will come loose in a few weeks’ time.

It’s nearly impossible to be highly motivated all the time. If you are missing your runner’s high, then the good news is it won’t be long until you find it again. If you started running in recent years, you may recall a time when preferring to sit on the lounge and polish off a block of chocolate while watching TV was normal – the fact that you know this is NOT normal and you don’t enjoy it means you are still a runner. Be kind to yourself and enjoy some social runs.

Ideally, the best way to get back your mojo is to sign up for another race that is long enough away that it motivates you towards new goals. You may consider getting a running coach who can help you pinpoint races and get you fit and running well towards your next goal.

And if you haven’t done it already, reward yourself – get your hair done, have a night out or buy a new pair of tights from RunFaster! Whether or not your big race went exactly as you wanted doesn’t matter now – congratulate yourself for getting it done, and enjoy the journey towards your new goals.

This post originally appeared as “Battling the Post-UTA Slump” on www.upcoaching.com.au

Image: Graham Hand and Gemma Holly, during the 2017 Northern Territory City 2 Surf.