Dealing with Post Marathon Blues
Funny enough Steve and I were getting depressed as soon as we were returning to Los Angeles after one of the funnest weekends in our lives taking 10 Beach Runners over to the Catalina Marathon. We’d given months of our life to make this goal happen, so now what?
In fact all week I’ve been anxious. And a little beat up after my race due to sore feet from the downhills. Nothing serious, just my feet got a little bruised. The anxiety comes more from this transition between training programs.
My body is a little confused as to what I should be doing. For the last 7 seven weeks, I have been training very hard for the Catalina Marathon. And now, my body is asking me, “What next?”
I spoke to many runners last night who seemed to be suffering from the post race blues.
Here’s what I like to do after finishing a marathon.
1. Take a break from running. The time period might vary, but I will not run for about two weeks after finishing a marathon. Especially a marathon I went all out on. Instead I am lifting weights, riding my bike, and doing yoga. My body needs a break . I coached someone last night to take a month off of any serious running.
It’s not only important to let the body rest from running but also to let the mind rest from running. It is very easy to get burned out from running. In ways, I believe that my strong performance in Catalina came from taking a break from running in January. So when I returned from vacation, I was excited to be running again.
The next Beach Runners session begins on May 19th, so that gives you a month break from running, and then maybe spend a few weeks doing FUN runs. Just don’t get all obsessive about running again unless you have some specific goals like an important race coming up.
2. Write down your upcoming race schedule. The Monday after the race I was on the Internet finding more races to run. More importantly, races TO TRAIN FOR. Marathon runners by their nature are problem solving type of people. We like complex difficult problems to figure out and solve like running 26.2 miles. So even if your next race will be completing the Long Beach Marathon with the Beach Runners 7 months from now, right it down, and begin thinking about what you can do to prepare. Do you need to visit a doctor? Work on your flexibility? Improve your diet? Get new running shoes?
I will list my race schedule the next few days.
3. Write down some running goals. That means a reasonable goal. Many runners try to set unrealistic goals for themselves, don’t accomplish them, then get discouraged about running/fitness. Danny Dreyer in his book, ChiRunning, makes the clear delineation between process oriented goals and product oriented goals. Take for example, you want to run a marathon under four hours? Why do you want to do this? Is it ego driven so you can say you ran under four hours? Have a clear reason in your mind for your goals.
Say your last marathon was 4:10. Now running under 4 hours would be a reasonable goal. But even then, better goals would be to improve your speed, through your form, or keeping a more consistent pace. These are more process oriented goals, something that you can work on every time you go out running.
In my opinion, making a time goal like sub four hours can drive your mind crazy as it is not something that you can practice in your runs.
My goal for Catalina was to be faster on the uphills and have better overall fitness. Well my power yoga gave me better overall fitness. And everytime I went out on the trails, I focused on my uphill form, swinging my arms, and breathing more. Consequently I got faster on my uphills. The results: I went from a 4:19 Catalina marathon last year to a 3:56 marathon this year. At no point, in my training was I thinking a sub four hour marathon. Isn’t that funny? I just stayed focus on the process.
4. Work on your hobbies or other things in your life. I have returned to my garden. Picked up my guitar. Tried finishing some books. I have even started Spring Cleaning. I’m doing anything to take my mind off of running right now. Writing this article even helps as by through the process of writing, I closing the training cycle in my mind.
Hope all that helps.
If nothing else, go for a walk or a rollar blade and watch the sun go down like I will with old friend this evening.
That will boost your spirits more than anything.