You know that feeling after you meet a big goal, you feel light as a feather, there is a bounce in your step, and you just cannot stop smiling. Then, whether it be a few hours to a couple of days later you’ve never felt so down on yourself? There is almost an overwhelming sadness and exhaustion.
We expect the low after we fail to meet a goal, miss a milestone, or get injured before a big event. So why do we feel low after we achieve success?
While it is not a great feeling, the good news about all of this, you are not alone. There are so many examples of famous athletes, Olympians, and World Champions who have gone through this. The most memorable example would be Michael Jordan retiring at the age of 30 after winning multiple NBA titles and an Olympic Gold Medal (Friedman, 2015). “I just needed to change… I was getting tired of the same old activity and routine and I didn’t feel all the same appreciation that I had felt before and it was tiresome.”
Here’s the bad news, I cannot make the low go away. And you know what? I would not want you to. These lows come after the highs. Don’t you think those highs are worth it? I certainly do.
I got to chatting with my good friend and sports psychologist about this. She reminded me that those moments are filled with emotion, excitement, and exhilaration, in other words you go through a hit of adrenaline. Eventually that adrenaline wears off and we are left feeling withdrawal. I would hazard a guess that’s why so many people impulsively signup for their next event immediately after completing a goal event.
When those lows come post-event most importantly remember that it is a natural feeling. Do not ignore it, embrace it. Tease out some of the feelings because there might be a gem in there to learn from. Talk to your friends and loved ones about how your feeling. And remember the feeling will pass.
It’s a double-edged sword too. Often after an event we are prescribed a period of rest. So not only is the adrenaline gone but so are the endorphins. Overall it just makes us feel even worse. I’m not suggesting you put your shoes back on, not yet anyways, that rest is an important part of process, not just for recovery. You don’t have to trust me, but you sure should believe Reid.
Sometimes we do not know what is going to be our next goal event and the motivation to get out the door to pound the pavement again can be a challenge. If you do not have a next event on the schedule I encourage you to use this time to do something new. Challenge yourself to be motivated in different ways. Maybe try the yoga 30-day challenge. Or sign up at your local spin studio for the week-long trial. Never been the to the gym? It’s actually one of my favourite ways to train.
These lows happen to me too. I think back to my marathon attempt. If I was being honest with myself I am questioning my desire to stay in the professional athlete game right now, to continue training at this level. I am still in the trough from the high of training for the marathon. I loved the build to the marathon over the summer, so it’s not surprising that right now I am lacking the love of training. As I start the build to my next event I know that love for running will come back, that this low will be a distant memory, and the motivation to get out the door will make me jump out of bed every morning.