Picture this; You are on cloud nine, having achieved that challenge you set out to reach. You’ve summited the mountain, you’ve crossed the finish line, you’ve passed the test but suddenly the dust has settled. That golden glow is fading and you are left with an odd feeling, something that can be hard to put your finger on.
In the active challenge world you would call it the post event blues, that horrible down you may get once that thing that you have been putting all of your time, energy and focus into has happened. It can leave you feeling lost, without purpose or in some cases depressed.
Finding a healthy balance with your goals is important, not letting racing or running become who you are is vital. However it’s normal to feel this way after a challenge, especially if you have achieved or even surpassed what you set out to. The buzz of the event and the high of the celebration can’t go on forever.
So, after that euphoria has ended and the congratulations are over, what next?
Below I have outlined a few things you can do to hopefully see off those post-event blues.
Go back to the start of your challenge, try to make sure you are not sacrificing everything for this one goal. Taking on an Ironman will take up your life, but if you can’t miss a ride to see your friend on their birthday then there is a chance that your challenge is overtaking your life. When the event is over, and the training lowers, you are going to find it even harder to fall back into ‘normal’ life if you haven’t still made time for it during the training period.
Know what you want from the race before you go into it. Is this goal part of a wider picture; such as completing Couch to 5k so that you can go and run Parkrun? If your goals match up then you know you are always working toward a new challenge. This means that you can stop to celebrate the wins along the way but they aren’t the only thing we are working towards.
Have you thought about trying something completely different? If this is a big goal you have been working at for a long time, an ultra marathon or multi day challenge for example it might be good to take some time away from that activity all together. Go and try a sport or skill you have always wanted to improve at. Focus on fun and socializing rather than finish lines and times. Then when the time is right, look ahead to the next challenge.
Take time to reflect on your achievements. Look at how far you have come, make note of what you have learnt and the areas that you progressed. What was it that helped you reach this new goal? Are there other areas you think you could still work at? Now you can plan out your next steps, refine what you have learnt and work on the areas you feel you could still progress.
Give back. If it was an active challenge you completed then there is no doubt that you had some support along the way. It might have been a coach, family member, the crowd at the event or the volunteers. Being a spectator or volunteer is such a rewarding role at a challenge. Regardless of if you know anyone racing or not you get a buzz just from being around so many people out smashing their goals. I challenge you to watch the London Marathon without tearing up at least once!
Whether running is your sport or it is another kind of activity, regardless of if you are racing for time or just trying to find enjoyment in movement again, we are all going to have our own unique goals. These feelings of struggle after an achievement aren’t reserved for the “big” challenges and the ways to overcome them aren’t only necessary if you have just finished an Ironman.
If you have any of your own tips on avoiding the post event blues then we would love you to let us know!