Post-Race Depression & Preperation

By the Precise Multisport Team


The holiday season begins earlier each year. The shelves are lined with decorations and inspiration for multiple seasons that bleed into one another. Then one holiday passes, and efforts and cheer are snowballed into the next holiday, then the next, and then–SNAP–the next day it’s all over. No easing out of it to counteract the months-long slow-build. The excitement and cheer is just forgotten and we’re left empty, and maybe even sad. Many have referred to this as seasonal depression, post-holiday letdown, and many other like phrases. 


Believe it or not, this happens with racing, too! You devote so much time and energy, work so hard, and then experience the accomplishment of this amazing goal…and then it’s just done. What now? While it’s not a clinical diagnosis, many athletes of varying skill levels experience post-race-depression (PRD). Dr. Jim Taylor asserts that athletes should not try to avoid PRD, but prepare for it and allow themselves to work through the inevitable letdown: “PRD actually plays an essential role in your recovery from the intensity of training and racing. Yet PRD is a source of uncertainty, concern, and just plain discomfort for triathletes [2].” 


Post-Race Depression is Normal

“You become the race [2].” This experience of extreme dedication is what leads to the post-race feelings of: sadness, irritability, general malaise, uncertainty, discomfort, concern, anger, frustration, disappointment [2], etc. Everything in your life revolved around this singular goal for so long, and when it is completed, your mind is left wondering where it goes next; what is your mind’s and body’s purpose? This is completely normal! When it is expected, it can also be dealt with appropriately.


Putting the PRE in Preparation

You spend so much time preparing for the race, you concentrate intensely during the race, so it only makes sense to have a recovery plan for after the race–which includes your mental recovery! Remember that the letdown is not so much mentally-based, but physiologically-based as your body takes the much-earned break it needs to recover from such a great achievement and effort. With this in mind, you can prepare yourself for the inevitable. Like your body recovering, your psyche needs to be allowed to recover as well. Consider the following post-race preparations:

  • Plan specific physical recovery efforts to occupy your mind. Use these efforts to remind you of your great achievement.

  • Plan for mental breaks where you do tasks that take your mind off the physical and emotional experiences. Focus on another aspect of your life that brings you joy–for which you now have more time on which to concentrate for a bit.

  • Talk to other athletes, your coach, and your support network. They will help remind you of your success, which supports your recovery.

  • Start planning your next big goal–another race, a trip, supporting another athlete…the list goes on. 

  • Seek help. If you are feeling overwhelmed and/or alone, it’s ok to seek help from experts!


This is where coaching and support networks come in key–having people around to celebrate your success and help distract you through your recovery until you’re ready to begin down the path to your next goal (athletic or not). Precise Multisport triathlon coaches are experienced and ready to help you through all the stages of pre-, during, and post- triathlon, marathon, Ironman, and other high-endurance race experiences. 



[1] Boucher, V., Caru, M., Martin, S., Lopes, M., Comtois, A.S., and LaLonde, F. (2001). Psychological status during and after the preparation of a long-distance triathlon event in amateur athletes. International Journal of Exercise Science, 14(5), 135-48.

[2] Taylor, J. (2022). Dealing with post-race depression. Outside: Triathlete.