As winter approaches and fall racing season comes to an end, runners everywhere are completing their goal races. After nearly half a year spent training for a big race, the completion of a goal feels nothing short of joyful. Crossing the finish line, whether you met your time goals or not, is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
So why does it feel like a huge let down when the race is finally over?
Sure, there are those finish line celebrations. Sitting down for your favorite recovery meal and reliving the experience with family and friends brings feelings of pride and elation.
But once the celebration ends and life returns to normal, many runners find themselves feeling lost, bored and purposeless.
Ah, the post-marathon blues.
I am no stranger to the experience myself. While the final weeks of training are spent dreaming about those lazy days post-marathon, relaxing on the couch, eating anything I want and sleeping in on Saturdays – when the time arrives I often find myself too antsy to truly enjoy the experience.
After months of structured workouts and race day thoughts, having no sweat session on the schedule only leaves me feeling antsy and a little sad. How in the world can the marathon be over already?
If you are experiencing any of these feelings, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. After so much time and effort was dedicated to accomplishing your marathon goals, it’s completely normal to feel a little sad now that the race is over.
Spending time recovering and relaxing is not nearly as satisfying when you’re not working hard towards a big goal.
If you are finding yourself knee deep in the post-marathon blues, here are a few tips to help get you through.
5 Tips for Surviving the Post-Marathon Blues
Don’t get so caught up in feeling bummed that the race is over that you forget what you just accomplished. It’s easy to let feeling lost take over your mind in those first few days post-marathon, but don’t forget to celebrate.
Rather than spending your energy wondering what to do next, take the time to treat yourself. Reward your body for the incredible feat it has just accomplished with post-race treats, celebrations and relaxation.
Remember that no matter how you are feeling, it takes more than a few days to recover from a marathon. Let the rewards last longer than just that post-marathon meal. Spend time eating your favorite treats that you avoided during training, sleeping in, and socializing with friends you neglected during training.
Designate time for recovery.
Before completing your marathon, make a plan for your recovery in the weeks to follow. How many days or weeks will you take off from running? Will you cross train during this time?
Setting a specific time frame for recovery helps your mind and body know exactly what to expect post-marathon. It allows you to wrap your head around the fact that you will be taking time off from running before that time actually arrives.
Creating a specific plan for recovery helps you avoid feeling guilty for sitting around after the marathon, and serves as a great reminder for what your body needs even as you start to feel better a few days after the race.
Spend time on other hobbies.
The post-marathon blues are intense for runners who have dedicated so much of their time and thoughts to training. When you suddenly find yourself with multiple extra hours each day, it’s easy to feel a little lost and purposeless.
Rather than letting the extra time make you feel sad, use this time to focus on other hobbies that were neglected during training. Do you love reading, painting, going out with friends, or walking your dog? Now is the time to reinvest in those activities that may have taken a seat on the back burner during training.
Use your usual run time to start a new book, call a friend or head outside for something other than running. Spending this time on activities you love helps avoid feelings of sadness and loss after a big race.
Take time to reflect.
While the big race may be over, you don’t have to just forget about it immediately. Now is the time to think through the race and reflect upon what went right and what went wrong on race day.
Take some time to write in your training log, look through race pictures, evaluate your splits and remember every feeling.
Reflecting on a big race while it’s still fresh in your mind helps you appreciate the accomplishment and remember all the work that went into it. Writing down some thoughts and reflections will serve as a helpful tool when you begin training for a new goal or race.
Set a new goal.
Once the excitement has passed and life returns to normal, the best way to avoid those post-marathon blues is to set a new goal. This doesn’t mean you have to sign up for another race (although it could), it just means creating a new plan and purpose.
Create a goal to cross train twice a week, try a new workout, run with your dog, get 10,000 steps, set a 5k PR, or anything else you can think of.
>>Need some ideas? Here are 10 unique running challenge ideas for the winter!
These new goals create a sense of purpose – no matter how big or small. Use the extra time during recovery to create a plan for yourself to accomplish what’s next.
Just because the race is over doesn’t mean you have to stop feeling proud. You have just accomplished something incredible, a feat that so few people will ever complete. It’s okay to feel proud, excited and happy for weeks and months after the race.
Rather than dwelling on the sadness, use the feelings of pride and accomplishment to motivate you to recover well and dream even bigger.
Running a marathon is no small feat. Like any other big moment in life, it’s okay to feel a little sad when it’s over. Remind yourself that experiencing the post-marathon blues are a sign that you gave it your all and left nothing on the table.
And above everything else – don’t forget to celebrate.