You’ve made check marks on your training log for the past four months. You’ve woken up at 5 a.m. for five days a week for the past 16 weeks to run in the dark. You’ve done 20 milers, completed speedwork sessions, and logged hundreds of miles. You’ve worked hard to earn those calluses, personal distance records, and tired – but strong – legs.
Then the marathon comes. Maybe your hard work pays off and you meet your goal. Or maybe the race doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped.
Either way, there’s a good chance that you’ll feel a void soon after crossing the finish line. The marathon – the one you poured your blood, sweat, and tears into to train for – is over. What do you do now?
The post-marathon blues are completely normal. In fact, any time you work towards a goal or count down to a big day – like your wedding or Christmas — you may feel a letdown once it’s over. Even if you dreaded training and “couldn’t wait” to be done, you may feel at a loss once it actually is.
These strategies can help you ease the post-marathon blues:
- Stop playing the “what if” game. What if I trained a little longer? What if I ran one more 20-miler? What if I didn’t go out so fast in the first few miles? A lot of runners analyze training and the race for weeks afterwards and let it consume their thoughts – especially runners who missed their goal. But look at the race as a learning experience. Make notes of what went right and what went wrong throughout training. Save those notes and re-evaluate them the next time you’re ready to train.
- Trust your body. You may be in the best shape of your life after the marathon. Unfortunately, you’re going to lose some of that hard-earned fitness in the upcoming weeks. Resist the urge to sign up for another marathon and jump right back into training. Give your body ample time to recover, and trust that your body can get back into peak racing shape again with proper training.
- Cultivate your other passions. Did you miss your child’s Saturday morning soccer games for the past few months because they interfered with long runs? Did you have to stop going on group bike rides with your buddies while you concentrated on training? Now is the time to do everything you were too busy to do during marathon training. Use your newfound free time to go to happy hours, catch up on your DVR, or play a round of golf. Staying busy will help keep your mind off the race.
- Set new goals. Some people can’t get over their last race until they have a new one on the calendar. Consider another marathon next season or perhaps a different challenge all together – perhaps you’ll train for a 5k PR or finally give trail running a go. Just make sure your next goal is several months away, so you have enough time to recover from the marathon and train for your next event.
- Seek professional help. If you can shake the blues after a few weeks, see your doctor.
How do you get past the post-marathon blues?
Written by Jen Matz.