How Do You Keep Focused on Training after Your First Big Race?

You train, hyper-focus and expend all of your energy on one goal for three months – then you make it happen.

Bored after your first race?

It is natural to lose interest afterwards. The newness has worn off; the excitement isn’t there anymore. Every run isn’t a new “Wow! That’s-the-furthest-I’ve-ever-run-ever!” experience. Maybe a new goal in a different area of your life has become your sole focus and now you are busy spending energy there with your running taking the backseat.

If you have lost interest after your first big race, you might be suffering from what Seth Godin has coined “The Dip” and what I will paraphrase as: The post-race dip. In his book, Seth discusses the process surrounding the timing that someone decides to quit or not quit something. If you have just run your first major race, are you going to throw in the towel for life or are you going to push through the boredom and keep running?

I was recently asked how to keep focused after your first big race. Here are my key three suggestions.

1. Immediately sign up for a new race
2. Start challenging yourself to beat your time
3. Join a running club or find a running partner

By committing to another race immediately, you will avoid the trap of becoming a one-hit racer. Do you want to embody Ah-ha with your “Take On Me” wonder-race or do you crave perennial success like U2, producing race after race?

As for time, I wasn’t concerned with setting a PR or time my first race, but now I am concentrating on shortening my race time. It gives me something to strive for, and I never realized how self-competitive I would become until I crossed the “Start” line in my first half.

If you are bored training alone, join a running club. You will learn speed-work, technique and hill drills all which will reduce your overall PR and encourage you through meeting like-minded friends.

It is natural to go into a post-race rest period, and enjoy all the hard work that a successful first venture has gifted you with. But resting on your laurels for too long could take you out of the running for the next big race.

For me, I was determined to keep running after my first half. And I have consistently. A mild-East coast fall has meant that the baby inside of me that despises cold weather hasn’t had to throw too many fits yet. Meanwhile, my blogging has fallen to the back of the priority list. It is time to get back to a running schedule and commit to my blogging schedule again. A few weeks off after a race to reflect and plan for my next goals were crucial, but it is time to keep pushing ahead! My next half is only four weeks away.

What about you? Do you have any tricks that worked after your first big race? Anything you do after each running season concludes? Any tips to get you through any boredom stretches?

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About the13thmile

I am proud to now say I am a half-marathon runner! Three half-marathons qualify for that status, I think. I blog about about running, nutrition and sometimes some other stuff. I share my research, tips and experiences with you, and am inspired by the supportive running community! I enjoy connecting with other runners, and hearing about other people's running experiences. Feel free to reach out if you have ran marathons or half marathons in the past!
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7 Responses to How Do You Keep Focused on Training after Your First Big Race?

  1. Michelle says:

    Post race slump has been a big concern of mine since I finished my first 10k a couple of weeks ago. I know I want to run a half marathon but it will be some time before I do it — probably late spring. So I signed up for a local 5k and will probably do a couple more smaller races just to stay focused.

  2. Dave says:

    In North Texas, our running season is just beginning. One doesn’t really wish to run long races in say, July!

    I have kept myself from getting bored by having a race goal prepared for when I finish. In addition, I generally go from running season to cycling season and back. As one sport comes up, the other is trailing off. There is a little overlap, but not much. And, I have some local races that I do consistently each year, such as the Cool Run 10K this month and Bronda’s Duathlon next month. That way I can gauge how I’m doing. It’s not just the time, but did I feel like I ran well, or did I have to really struggle.

  3. Liuba says:

    Some great advice! I definitely know what you mean, having just ran my first half-marathon on Oct. 17th. I feel the void!

  4. I think goals are key. I did an October Marathon, I plan to do a few spring half marathons and will soon pick them. I have a schedule in training peaks (a software program) that keeps me honest too. It is hard though post race, darker and colder…you can see how people fall off the running wagon.

  5. Christina says:

    Although the NYC Marathon isn’t my first race, it’s the race that I’ve been training for. I’m already planning out my races for next year, but in addition, after Nov 7, I’d like to experiment with barefoot/minimalist running to try to correct my pronation and because it may make my legs/feet/ankles more durable.

    And I’d like to get faster but I think that will just come with more running! 🙂

    • the13thmile says:

      Good luck as you start experimenting with the barefoot running. Please keep me updated on if it corrects your pronation. I over-pronate but still have not gotten into the barefoot trend unless I am on the beach!

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