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Post-Competition Blues

We see beasts from every sport here at Made 2 Move: Crossfit, powerbuilding, olympic lifting, rock climbers, marathoners, ultra marathoners- you name it. And HUGE congratulations to all of our Fittest of the Coast (FOTC) athletes out there! Often athletes report feeling down post-competition, referred to as the “post competition blues.” Athletes feel like they’ve hit a peak/climax and are wondering, “Now what?” Well…you could come join us for the Crossfit Open starting February 29th!


Okay, we’re kidding about the open (but not really). While some athletes don’t ever experience the “blues,” these “post-competition blues” are REAL  for those who do. Feelings will manifest differently for every athlete, but common “blues” include:  feeling directionless and unmotivated to train post-competition or feeling down, isolated, and just lacking that overall lust for training and life in general. 



What are “Post Competition Blues?”

There’s some science to the crash/blues you may feel after a competition. With big competitions or races, you have a rush of endorphins pre, during, and post competition. Then these levels return to normal, taking those euphoric type feelings with them (Kassell 2022). 


A study looked at the  “Post-Olympic Blues” following the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Researchers analyzed 49 Danish Olympians from 15 different sports and found that amongst those 49 athletes,

  • “22% of Danish athletes reported severe or moderate depressive symptoms after the Olympic games.”

  • “29% of athletes reported below average wellbeing after the Olympics.”

  • “6% of athletes reported moderate to severe anxiety symptoms” (Küttel 2023).  


Now every athlete does not experience these “post-competition blues.” And on the other end, some people experience these blues in such an extreme sense that it errs more on the side of clinical depression.  If your symptoms are severe, PLEASE reach out to a mental health professional in the area. If you need any recommendations, we are happy to suggest a few of our favorites. 


Outlined below are a few ways our team has found helpful to navigate post-competition blues in both ourselves and clients. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, nor intended to replace true medical care and/or therapy for depression.


Mindset + Mental State

Navigating post competition blues starts with looking at your overall mental state and mindset, and this begins before the competition even starts. Set expectations, make sure you have a solid support system, and have a rough game plan in mind of what your physical fitness is going to look like post-competition. Maybe it’s a week of complete rest. Maybe you buy a class pack to a new gym to try out moving in a different way for a few weeks. Also, going into the competition with the understanding that this drop in mood post-competition is experienced by other athletes, even Olympians, can also make the experience feel a little more manageable. 


It’s also important to to try and reframe the mindset of “When I DO (insert activity, goal, etc here), then I’ll BE/FEEL, (insert feeling/emotion here).  

  • When I get that muscle up, then I’ll be happy.

  • When I finally PR this lift or race time, then I’ll have made it. 

  • When I finish this competition, then I’ll take a break. 


This mindset is very common in the fitness world and can be useful in motivating you to achieve your goals, but when it becomes all consuming it serves as more of a detriment, as it can in set you up for both injury and mental exhaustion.  


Before and after your competitions/races, take some time to reflect and ask yourself the question, “How is my relationship with health and fitness as a whole?”  It’s often helpful to journal on this topic. 


Actionables

Once we’ve reflected on our overall mental state/mindset, then we can move to the post-competition actionables. A few ways to navigate “the blues” below: 

  • Find an outlet outside of fitness + Make sure your identity & character isn’t entirely embodied by fitness. 

  • THIS is important. We see this happen with clients here at Made 2 Move. If fitness is your only stress outlet + major enjoyment, then if injury occurs or you have no competition to train for, it can rock your world. Athletes  can end up a little lost, down, and detached from “feeling like yourself.” Having other outlets and an identity beyond your “gym self” can serve as a buffer here. 

  • Take advantage of the no stakes, low pressure training environment.

  • Take a break from the barbell.

  • Take a week (or two) where you don’t touch a barbell. This challenge can be a competition in and of itself for those who love the barbell! But it can keep you hungry to get back into training, as well as give your body a switch-up from the same implement/pattern it is comfortable training with. 

  • Try some sandbag deadlifts or cleans!

  • Dial into specific aspects of training.

  • This could look like dialing into an aspect of training that you couldn’t when you were training for your competition or race. 

  • This could also include honing into a certain part of your performance from the competition that didn’t go as well as you’d hoped. 

  • Switch Gears

  • Maybe you try out a new sport, movement, or style of training. Some examples? 

  • Swimming

  • Golf

  • Gymnastics/Calisthenics

  • Climbing

  • Running (for my big time lifters)

  • Lifting (for my big time runners)

  • Hop into workout classes with your friends (or at a place you know no one!)

  • Spend more time in your relationships


What Now?

While a lot of these actionables are a major DUH, reminders are always good. At Made 2 Move, we love competing and supporting our clients who do- it’s why we camped out at FOTC all weekend! Competitions are a great way to give your fitness goals some timelines and weight. But we are also big fans of just working out for the fun and overall wellness side of movement. 


If you’re interested in working with a PT that understands programming and tailors rehab to balance both competition and overall wellness, reach out to frontdesk@made2movept.com today to set up an initial evaluation! 

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