March 25, 2023

Post-Race Blues (a reader question)

I was looking for something to post today and I re-discovered a folder in my email called "Blog Post Ideas"--they are ideas that were submitted by readers. At the time I made it, I had every intention of writing about each of them--and then, being me, I completely forgot the folder was even there.

So, I started looking through them today, and there was one from 2019(!) about "post-race blues" and how to get motived to start running again after a big race is over. Since I was just writing yesterday about how I just don't feel motivated to run right now, I thought it might be a helpful post (for myself, even).

In 2016, I ran a personal best 10K and I felt on top of the world. I had trained SO HARD for that time. The previous fall, I was running an 11:00 minute mile for a 10K and my goal (for April) was to run a 7:55 minute mile pace. Sounded completely impossible.

But I trained my ass off, even losing 40 pounds in the process. And on race day, I did it! I was so happy and relieved that all of my training had paid off.

And you know what? That was the last time I felt *truly* excited about racing. After that, I didn't care about my speed or distance, or even running races ever again. I had reached that big goal and I didn't really have another desire to reach new distances or speeds. I wanted to keep running, but more for exercise/hobby/fun than anything.

I wish I could say that it has changed over time, but it honestly hasn't. I go through phases where I really enjoy running and other times, phases where I want to quit for good (right now, I have no desire to run). The point is, though, I had the post-race blues after that 10K for a long time. I actually went into a pretty deep depression for nearly a year--at which time I went to a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with bipolar.

I felt like I just didn't have anything to look forward to after crushing my goal. I'd worked so hard that I never wanted to try to better my time once again. I've only run a few races since then and I haven't truly *raced* any of them. In 2018, I gained a lot of weight back because I just couldn't find that drive I used to have--not just racing, but in diet as well. 

I replied to the reader who had sent me the question--I said that I'm not "credible" to give advice about getting motivation back to keep running because I hadn't yet gotten there myself. I said that once I figured it out, I would be sure to write about it.

And here we are, almost four years later... do I have the right advice? Unfortunately, no.

This is where I am hoping some other people can jump in and give their own advice for getting back to running after the "post-race blues". I'm in a bit of a pickle (totally my fault) right now because I have a 10K race in two weeks and I'm not even close to ready for it. I don't know whether to go try to run it and do my best or just go and cheer Nathan on while he runs it (we hadn't planned to stick together through the race itself--he's much faster than I).

Basically, I want to WANT to run. There were times where I was excited to train because I could see myself improving. There were times that I switched up training methods to keep things interesting. I coached cross country and hoped that would motivate me; I've read running books and I've listened to running podcasts to no avail. I just can't get back that full-force drive I used to push me to train. Or if I wasn't training for a race, I ran anyway.

In my heyday, if someone would have asked, I would have suggested:

*Pick a new race to train for.
*Set new goals for either distance or speed (not both at the same time)
*Check out some running motivation (I wrote a whole post about my running motivators here)
*Try a different training method (if you're used to training by speed, then try heart rate training; if you're used to training by distance, try running shorter distances but faster; etc.)
*Pick a running plan that is different than anything you've done before; there is something about the fresh, new start that is a pick-me-up
*Take a short break from running and try another sport--or maybe even set your sights on a triathlon.
*Make it fun with friends by signing up for a race like a Ragnar Relay (that's the race that I did with a team in the film 'From Fat to Finish Line').
*Get together with a friend and train for another race together--even if you don't have plans to run a personal best.
*Sometimes just looking through past race photos helps!

As you can see, I have ideas. They just haven't panned out for me--either due to excuses, laziness, lack of interest, or inability due to injury or something like that. 

So, Friends, I ask you now... what would your advice be? I want to know for myself as much as for the reader who asked the question! (A million years ago) Thanks :)


  1. You don't have to run. If you can find some other type of exercise that you enjoy, do that instead. Maybe try something completely different. Zumba, wall climbing, HIIT, pickle ball?

  2. I think if you just look at the picture of yourself in this post it can motivate you! You are very strong and athletic! I think you never were a smoker. I quit smoking 22 years ago, but when I run, I can still feel it. My husband and I just signed up for a 5K yesterday. It's not 'till June, but I'm excited. I never care about speed. I hope you run that race. Is Jerry running it? We want pictures.

  3. When I have been in your situation, and I already paid for the race just run and walk it. Many people do it and you still get a workout and wasted no money on the entry fee. Best of luck!

  4. I agree with the previous poster--find something else that you enjoy instead. But also, I have the Peloton app on my phone and enjoy listening to that while I run. I also love to trail run and stop and take pictures along the way.

  5. For me having an overarching goal works better. I make short term and mid term goals. Short term might be run for x minutes or xkms but mid term goals are more like i want to be healthy and able to run into my mid life and be strong. There might be multiple ways to achieve that but there is no real end point. Focus on improving a little and being stronger. I also want to make sure i enjoy whatever exercise i do. I try different places. Places close and convenient. I mix it up with strength training at the gym. It makes it less solitary and if you have a running set back there are still options.

  6. I'm in a similar spot. I used to run races all the time, but after doing 6 full marathons in the space of I think about 4 years, I just got burnt out and stopped running almost completely. That was about 5 years ago now. I run less in a year now than I used to in a week probably (and I was never a high mileage runner). I definitely don't miss devoting my weekends to long runs. I do wish I still had the passion to run for pleasure, but I don't, so I don't force myself. These days I'd much rather go for a hike.

  7. I always ALWAYS get a post-race let down. My go-to is usually to sign up for another race. But that won't work for everyone. We each have to find what works for us and for the time in our life we find ourselves. I've been sick on and off for six months. Right now, a slow walk with the pupperina is my best exercise. If I wake up feeling well on Saturday, I'll join the running group for a few slow miles followed by breakfast. Movement of any form counts!


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

Featured Posts

Blog Archive