The Blue Side of Racing

1st female, 3rd overall, 59 min PR for the 100 mile distance….Why am I crying?  What’s wrong with me?  So many others would be so happy with that result.  I am happy with that result!  Why am I in bed with tears flowing down my cheeks?

I started racing ultras 10 years ago.  Back then, the ultra community was small, and I didn’t personally know anyone competing in this sport.  I immersed myself in podcasts, books, and magazine articles to learn as much as possible about ultra running.  I would ask for advice from fellow racers as we spent miles on the course chatting.  I gained a lot of knowledge on how to train, how to fuel, and how to recover.  What no one ever mentioned was feeling down after a race.  Was it just me? It had to just be me, right?  I couldn’t mention this to my family & friends.  They couldn’t fathom running 50 miles, much less setting the Course Record and crying about it days later.  As soon as I jumped back into training hard, the sadness went away, and I felt proud of what I had accomplished.  This cycle would continue race after race.  It didn’t matter if I won the race, or if I DNF’d, one thing was certain: post-race blues.  There were moments when I contemplated walking away from racing.  I’d get excited during race registration, absolutely loved the training, enjoyed the camaraderie of racing, but dreaded the anticipation of the days following the race.

A few years ago, I finally opened up about my post-race blues to a coach that I trusted.  We had a discussion on the physiological & psychological changes that often occur following a big event that could lead to what is known as post-race blues.  Most importantly, she reassured me that this was way more common than social media lead me to believe.  She emphasized the importance of post-race recovery, even though the remedy for my post-race blues was to start training hard again.

I still suffer from post-race blues, and I probably always will. Through trial & error, I’ve found what helps me cope the best so that I can continue to get excited about crossing the finish line.  I have conversations with my loved ones in advance so they are aware of the feelings I will have post-race and aren’t caught off guard when the blues hit. I acknowledge my feelings of sadness and I allow myself time to decompress.  I remind myself that post-race blues affects many individuals and that I am not crazy for feeling the way I do.

If you are a new runner and you’re experiencing post-race blues for the first time, please know that you are not alone.  If you are a veteran runner, and this story sounds all too familiar, I hope you use your voice to educate others, so they know they are not alone.


Written by Christine Burns


Header Image Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography 

1 comment

Yikes. I’m running my first ultra this month. Thank you for the warning. If the blues hit, I won’t be surprised – but I hope they don’t.
Tailwind Nutrition replied:
We hope you have a great race! We’re glad Christine shared about this topic as it can be something a lot of athletes experience and now with this knowledge: awareness and preparedness can help a lot of people, be well!


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