Tips to Prevent the Post-Performane Slump

By Ashley Corn | In Uncategorized | on October 22, 2015

I’ve noticed that typically a few days after completing my big goal race for the season I start to feel a little down, restless and unmotivated.  What’s up with that? I had a great training cycle, I accomplished my goal and ran tough the whole race, so shouldn’t I be feeling great?

I’m sure many of you can relate to that “post-performance slump” that occurs after completing a big goal race or event. Training for a big event like a marathon, triathlon or major tournament requires a tremendous amount of time and energy and much of your life revolves around the training and preparation for that event. When the event is over and that same intensity and dedication is no longer required, it leaves many athletes feeling apathetic, empty and even mildly depressed following the event regardless of the outcome.

One reason why we may have this “post-performance slump” is because most of us have been taught that goal attainment is the reward, but in actuality the real fulfillment and motivation lies in the dream and process of striving toward the goal.  Now that the goal is accomplished it feels like the dream is over and we are often left with a feeling of “now what?” In addition, when we are training everyday our brain gets use to the rush of endorphins and begins to crave it.  When we stop or slow down our normal training volume there is a decrease in the amount of endorphins released into our brain, which can leave us feeling down.

However, it’s not all in your head. There are some physiological reasons for the “post-performance slump” as well.  You require a lot from your body during training and the big race or event, so once you complete your goal it becomes a signal to your body to shut down and to begin to recuperate. In addition, muscle soreness can often cause difficulty sleeping, which can result in fatigue and irritability.

Therefore, it is important for us to mentally and physically regroup before we begin to focus on the next big goal.  Here are few tips that I will be utilizing and could also be helpful for you.

  1. Understand that it is very common and many athletes go through the same thing.
  2. Allow your mind and body time to recover. It can be tempting to jump right back into training for the next big goal, but it is extremely important to let yourself fully recover before doing so.  Give yourself at least a week completely off of your sport.  Olympian Desi Davilla says after a marathon she takes two weeks completely off training and an additional two weeks very easy.  I have to remind myself of that!
  3. Although you are taking a rest period, research shows that continuing mild activity is important for improving your mood.  Give your body the rush of endorphins it craves! Try doing an activity other than your event, such as yoga, swimming, walking, etc.  By changing up the exercise you won’t be as tempted to work out too hard. You could also spend the time you were dedicating to your training to focus on recovery activities.  These activities could include things like mental training, stretching, foam rolling, massage, or PT.
  4. Carve out time to do all the things you enjoy and may have missed out on during your training cycle. This could be staying up late to go out with friends now that you don’t have to worry about waking up for that Sunday long run. Maybe it is allowing yourself to indulge in those treats you may have passed up before the race.  Maybe it’s just enjoying the fact that you get to sleep in before work. Don’t go crazy, but take the time to celebrate your accomplishment and enjoy your rest period!

As you recover you can begin to set a new long-term goal for yourself. This will fuel your passion and kick start your motivation again.

Contact us for more ways to work through the post-performance slump or for help in planning your next goal!

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