You’ve been training for weeks (or months) and you finally did it: you crossed the finish line of your big goal race. Whether you had the race of your life or things didn’t go according to plan, you’ve officially scratched it off the list. Now what? After spending so long being hyper-focused on your goal, it’s normal to feel a little bit lost when it’s all over, so use these tips to help you navigate the weeks following the big event.
Take a break
The days immediately following your goal race are the perfect time to take a break from running. Depending on the length of your race, you may need only a few days, but for longer races, a few weeks may be necessary. This can sometimes feel strange for runners, but we encourage you to embrace it. Use this time to try something new, or engage in a hobby that you let fall by the wayside during your training. There’s more to life than training, and now’s the perfect time to enjoy yourself in other ways.
Reassess your goals
Once you’ve given yourself a few days to bask in the glow of a job well done (or given yourself some separation from a rough race), use some of your extra time to reevaluate your goals, and to choose a new one. Just broke an hour in the 10K? Maybe now it’s time to try for 50 minutes. Or perhaps you’re thinking of moving up in distance and training for a half-marathon. If the race didn’t go well, now’s the time to look at ways you might be able to improve your training so you can have a better day next time. Whatever you choose to do, now’s the perfect time to reset and plan your next steps.
Hit the gym
Since you’re doing a little less running than you were before, now’s also the perfect time to dial in on your strength training routine. Hitting the gym in the off-season is a great way to build strength ahead of your next training cycle, so you can be faster and more injury-resistant when you start working toward your next goal.
Taking some time off doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do absolutely no running for several days or weeks. While you should give yourself at least a few days of zero running, you can start to add short, easy runs into your schedule when your body feels ready. A good way to ensure you don’t overdo it during this time is to only run every other day. Start out with a few shorter runs, and gradually increase your distance as you begin to feel recovered.
Taking time off is necessary not only for your body, but for your mind as well. It gives your brain a chance to rest from the stress of training and racing and allows you to enjoy other activities. Yes, you’ll lose a bit of fitness, but once you get back into your next training cycle, you’ll be better off for it.