Well. You did it!
You crossed your finish line! Great job. You were probably flying high for a few hours after completing your goal race, as well you should. Whether you trained 6 weeks or 16, you put in your time, you did your miles. On days when it would have been easy enough to polish off that carton of ice cream, you laced up your shoes instead. You guzzled water and you learned to like gel-based nutrition. You taped up your blisters and you slathered up with Body Glide. And you did it!
Still, there's a sort of restlessness in your legs, a sense of disquiet in your otherwise endorphin-filled mind. The question lurks in the shadows, and you try to not see it, because if you ask the question, you'll have to find its answer.
It happens in the most mundane way, while we're busy looking at the training calendar. For weeks, and sometimes months, we schedule our lives around the goal. Monday means recovery, and Tuesday means track. Maybe we get to work early two days a week so we can leave in time to make it to the group workout. We avoid going out on Fridays because we know we have a long workout on Saturday. We look forward to rest day like it's some decadent gift. Every step we take is tallied, along with every mile we finish. But it's more than just the calming, known rhythm of the training cycle. It's the people.
We grow accustomed to seeing the same familiar faces looping the track or dashing up hills. We look forward to Saturdays when we can ask the coach if she recommends carbo-loading, or talk about the training run that stunk this week. Over time, these formerly random strangers have become a movable cheering section, a rallying voice behind a common and still unique goal. What we decide to do for ourselves, running or walking a race, becomes a communal effort when we train in groups. We do what kids instinctively know how to do; we make friends. We celebrate what they do, and they return the favor.
And so when the confetti is scraped away from the starting line, and the finish line has long been packed away, and we're nursing our sore calves, it's easy to settle into a post-race funk.
The good news is that if you bother to ask the question "What now?" your friendly neighborhood Fleet Feet has an answer.
The weeks after a goal race don't have to be a drag. Here, we present our Top Tips on Avoiding a Post-Run Funk.
Don't fight it. It's easy to start thinking that you'll lose all your hard work if you take a break. We have a fear of not being busy in our culture, but as athletes, we know that REST IS TRAINING. So embrace the rest. If you must run or walk, then slow your pace way down. Better yet, don't pay attention to your pace. Just get out there. If you've sustained a last season injury, now is a great time to prop up those legs and let them recover.
Chances are, you'll be processing your performance for some time. Now is the perfect time to do some evaluating. Think through your race, asking yourself what you did well, what you would do better. Ask yourself if you liked that particular distance, and try to figure out why. If you hit your goal time, consider what a new goal might be. If you felt your performance could be improved, read up on ways others have handled similar issues. You may decide you hate that distance you just finished and want to focus on a different one. You may want to spend some time just working on speed or hills or strength. You may want to do all cross training just for a few weeks. The only wrong decision here is the one you feel like you should make but don't want to make.
Seriously. Take a nap.
Our Tweener Runs will start May 21st and our Monday and Thursday Pint Nights (at Blue Dome and Broken Arrow, respectively), Tuesday Track, and Mountain Goats Trail club runs and walks go year round. These are Saturday meet ups in a loose and casual setting. There are no formal coaches or courses. People simply show up on a Saturday and form groups based on time or distance. We will put our some water and people will go for shorter distances to stay fit before the next training session starts.
No Boundaries starts on May 15, then Pathways, Walk Fit Distance and Walk Fit Camp begin the very next week. These programs cycle through regularly so you can always try a new distance, group, or pace.
Running and walking isn't a Have-To. They are Get-Tos. We all have a list of Have-Tos as long as our arms. If running or walking begins to feel like a chore, then don't do it. It's not uncommon to feel a lack of desire to run or walk. Listen to your body. Let go of any negative assessments about your performance. Decide if and how you'll address them and move on.
It's okay to feel the Post-Run Funk, but how you handle it can go along way toward deciding how your next race will go.