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