What to do in the week after a race
Updated: Jul 22, 2020
This is now the second week following the Gold Coast half marathon. Time got away from me and my plans to post this week fell through, but since I’m still in somewhat of a post race pattern, it’s still relevant.
So here are my things to do in the week (or so) following a race.
If it went well, celebrate: You have earned it after all the hard work, it’s time to reward yourself. Even if you didn’t get the result you were hoping for, you still likely put in a big effort and a hard block of training, which is worth recognising.
Everyone has their own ways to celebrate, in the Gold Coast we usually head to the nearest surf club for drinks and dinner, but after the Berlin marathon, we spent a couple of hours floating at a pool at a German spa. Whatever works for you, do it!
If it didn’t go well, be patient: Give yourself time to recover before you analyse what went wrong. The answers may not always be obvious, and they can be easier to work out once the initial disappointment has passed. My Gold Coast race wasn’t what I was hoping for, and I’m still not totally sure why two weeks later. I definitely wouldn’t have got anything out of beating myself up about it on the day.
No matter how it went, recover: Take some time to relax and recoup, physically and mentally. When you build up to a race, there is a lot of energy and focus put into it, and it can take a lot out of you.
Because I didn’t run the time I was hoping to in the Gold Coast, it would be easy to think that I don’t need much of a recovery. After all, my pace ended up being similar to a few long training runs I had done, and was well off a PB effort. But in the context of how I felt on the day, it was still a hard run and one the need to recover should always be respected!
Have a burger or two: If I have decided to watch my diet in the lead up to a race, one of my favourite things to do the week after is have a burger. Last week, I may have extended that to two burgers. And they were worth the wait!
Keep your running light: If you are used to doing an active recovery, going for some light runs is a good idea in the days following the race. Give yourself some time before you do any hard running, how long will depend on the distance of your race. After a marathon, I keep it light for a couple of weeks. After this half, I did parkrun the following weekend.
Maintain your routine: I’m a big believer in consistency being one of the most important things for training success. Getting into a routine is a great way of training consistently. Once habits are formed, they become easier to maintain. This week, I had an afternoon coffee on Wednesday and Thursday because I had late nights. Today, it was way too easy to go downstairs at 3pm for a coffee just because I had the past two days. The same can apply to running. I wrote a post recently about how making running a habit helped me improve.
After a big race and months of training, it’s totally normal to want to take some time off. It’s something I am really struggling with at the moment. Even with another race to do in a couple of weeks, I am waking up in the mornings with no motivation to train. But for the sake of maintaining the habit, I’ve made myself get up for some short runs.
Whether or not you have plans to train for another race in the near future, I think it’s worth keeping up a bit of running. If you need to recover and regroup, keep it light and focus on enjoying it. But getting out and oing some running will make it so much easier to step up the training again when you are ready to target your next goal.