Sunday, December 20, 2015

Post-Race Burnout

We've all been there- We stay disciplined for months to cross the finish line of a big race. After early-morning runs and sacrificing time to put in the miles, it's all worth the sense of accomplishment. But for some reason or another, it's hard to get back into the swing of running after a race. It's that dreaded post-race burnout. Every runner faces it at one point or another. I've definitely experienced it but I am here to tell you I overcame it. You can too! I've put together my ten best tricks at overcoming post-race burnout so you can enjoy runnning again. You may even break a PR!

The first three tips are actions you can do BEFORE your race. You can definitely prepare yourself to avoid crashing before you even get to the starting line.

1. Register for another race 
It sounds silly to register yourself for another race before even completing your next one. Trust me on this. Having another race to look forward to is motivating. It also eliminates a lot of room for excuses. When you invest money into another race, you are more likely to train for it. Set a goal for it, too. You don't have to set a new PR with every race. For example, I've set a goal for a future race that has nothing to do with my time. I want to fit into a pair of size 6 Lilly Pulitzer shorts that have been sitting in my drawer. This goal involves overall fitness and eating well. I may hit a PR because of it, but I'm focusing on the goal itself.

Be realistic when planing your next race. Keep in mind the amount of time it will take to recover. Some runners plan races back to back. It's great to do race weekends back-to-back. Consider how back-to-back races may contribute to burnout, though. Be realistic, too. Another race a week or two apart won't help you in the long term. I suggest committing to a race 2-3 months after. Races in between are even better! Anything to keep you focused will help.

2. Pre-determine how much time you will take off 
It's easy to cross a finish line and decide you won't run again for another month. It's smarter to pre-determine how much time you'll take to rest and STICK TO IT! One or two weeks is a good amount of time to recover from a half marathon or marathon. Make that determination while you're still disciplined and training for your race.

3. Find an accountability partner 
I have formed several friendships with fellow runners from group boards. We text each other about our runs and stay accountable for the miles we need to put in. You could join a running club for support, too. If you're lucky enough to have a local friend with a passion for running, run together! There are so many ways to connect and stay accountable. Your partner doesn't need to run all the same races as you, either.

The next several tips you can take advantage of immediately following your race.

4. Take care of your body 
You just put your body through a lot. Foam rolling, hydrating yourself, and icing joints are all important at this stage in your training. You may even want to do a little bit extra and take a bubble bath or get a massage or pedicure. The hardest run of your training is likely to be your race so make sure your body feels great afterwards. Aches and pains lead to excuses and there's no time for excuses when running!

5. Don't over-indulge during your post-race meals 
My favorite food to eat after a race is cheese fries. Preferably waffle fries with shredded Monterey Jack and ranch on the side. I limit myself to one order and normally follow it with a salad. Eating pizza and burgers for your next few meals will most likely make your body feel like crap. Just try to enforce a little healthy balance and you'll be fine. Also, keep in mind a half marathon burns approximately 1,500-1,800 calories so you don't want to go overboard.

6. Take an energy supplement 
I don't drink coffee or soda, so I don't get caffeine regularly. I do however, add a booster to my protein shakes occasionally. With long runs I usually feel like I need an energy booster but I don't want something to have a negative impact on my runs. My favorite natural option is Focused Energy. Just one scoop gives me enough energy to tackle a long run or stay focused after working long hours. It prevents me from crashing after a race, too. 

Following these six steps should make the next four steps a piece of cake!  Ahhhh I love cake.

7. Reward yourself for hitting your goal. 
When you set a goal for your race, attach a reward to it.  For example, I decided I would buy myself a new Lilly dress if I beat my PR during the 2015 Wine and Dine Half Marathon.  We all know how that race went...  It doesn't have to be a splurge.  I have made a tradition out of buying a new Disney Alex and Ani bracelet for every runDisney weekend I participate in.  You could make a charm bracelet and add a charm for every race.  There are so many ways to reward yourself for hard work.  Don't allow food to be a reward, though!

8. Show off your pictures/certificate 
In my cube at work, I have a certificate and/or medal hanging for every race I've completed.  It's nice to look at and remind myself what I'm capable of.  You'll be motivated to get back into running when you add a new commemorative piece to your collection.

9. Get new gear 
Sometimes a new pair of running shorts are all I need to get in the miles I need.  I find myself buying a new running item anytime I'm starting to lose motivation.  I bought new socks this week and was able to stick to my runs because I was excited to try them out.  It's the little things.  If running is your passion, spending a few bucks here and there shouldn't make you feel guilty.

10. Schedule runs and STICK TO THEM 
Each week I write down which days I'm going to run and how many miles I'll need to put in.  It makes it easier to break your plan down into weeks.  It's less intimidating and more achievable this way.  When I know I have a run on a busy day, I'll even write down what time I can squeeze in the run.  I did this in college when planning homework and studying and rarely missed a workout.  Most days I'll write out a To-Do list and even though I'll have a run written down in my planner, I'll still add the run to the check list.  There's something rewarding about checking a run off your list.

I hope these tips help you!  Let me know which ones you find most effective and what race you're training for!  I'd love to hear your feedback!


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