Beginner’s Luck: 4 Tips to Avoid the Post-Race Letdown

Meredith Atwood shares her four tips for avoiding the depression that often comes after a big race.

Photo: Kevin R Morris

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Oftentimes post-race relief quickly turns to depression. Beginner’s Luck columnist Meredith Atwood shares her four tips for avoiding the letdown. 

You have worked hard all year. You set that big goal, you pursued it with a passion and you had an amazing (or at least a lesson-learning race).

Then the big question is, “Now what?”

Especially for the long-distance races, there can be a real sense of disappointment, a gaping hole in your time and your heart for the training. Most of the time, we can find ourselves wandering around depressed and we don’t even realize why. Sometimes this is even harder when the race did not turn out how we thought it would.

Here are some things that I have found over the years to alleviate the post-race letdown.

1. Prepare for it

I think with a first “big” race, most of us don’t prepare for any disappointment or let down. We focus so diligently on the “glory” of the finish that when it’s over, we have lost our bearings. Continue to focus on those goals and the finish, but place a little space in your mind for dealing with “what next” when the race is over.

2. Be Kind to Yourself

After the race, remember to immediately be kind to yourself. Whether you had an amazing race or you had a tough day, self-kindness is the biggest gift you can bestow upon yourself. Knowing that you will be kind to yourself will help prevent the “I am disappointed in myself” Facebook posts, thoughts, and hatred for bad race photos. Just understand that you put your body through an amazing feat, and your body is AMAZING for doing it.

3. Rest

Give yourself a break. A real one. For real. Do the things that have fallen off your priority list, snuggle your kids and family a little more, and take a breather. Allow yourself to sleep in—something that you may have really missed out on during the last several months. Define what rest you need, and abide by that plan.

4. Set a New Goal and Plan (but don’t be hasty!)

Race Registration Compulsion Disorder (RRCD) is a real thing. Remember to not get caught up in the crazy of hasty registrations. Give yourself a breather (see No. 3) before you set your goals for the next year. Revenge racing (racing out of anger, disappointment, or to “show” someone, including yourself) is sometimes a good motivator, but it can also lead to a trip down Crazy Lane. Be cognizant of the reasons you are signing up.

Once you have given yourself a minute to breathe, then start to think about your goals for the next race or season. Most of all, have fun and remember why you do this thing called racing.

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, motivational speaker and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman. You can download a free copy of the book here. She is the host of the iTunes podcast, “The Same 24 Hours,” a show which interviews interesting people who make the best of the 24 hours in each day. Meredith lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children, and writes about all things at

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