It’s normal for runners to feel lost, purposeless and yes, even a little blue after finishing a marathon.
You just spent something like 16 weeks following a regimented training plan. You were working out almost every day, every single one of your weekends revolved around the long run and even though it was tough at times, you knew exactly what you were working towards; there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
Now, the race is over and maybe you’re feeling like the party ended too soon, like you have nothing to work for. The tunnel is dark and you don’t know which direction you should be heading.
These emotions are normal, but you also don’t want to let them keep you down. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help cheer the runner in you back up.
After your marathon, use these tips to help wash away your post-race blues.
1. Appreciate your achievement.
No doubt, although quite painful too, the first few hours after the marathon are blissful. Even if you had a tough race or didn’t meet your goal, you still get to revel in the fact that you just finished a marathon. However, those incredible moments right after the race, when you get your medal, you reunite with your friends and family and later celebrate with food and drinks will also probably feel like a blur later on. So make sure you not only take the time to enjoy those initial moments as they're happening, but also remember to stop and reflect on the momentous task you’ve accomplished a day or two after the race when all of the excitement has died down.
2. Make plans for the weekend following your race.
All of your weekends for the past several months have been consumed by running. Make sure you schedule something fun to do for the weekend following your race so that you’re not left sitting around wondering what to do with all of your free time. Unless of course sleeping in, relaxing and binge-watching Netflix all day is your idea of fun. In that case, sit around and enjoy your free time all day. You certainly earned it.
3. Take it easy.
Whether you’re feeling bored because you can’t run or anxious to get back to training because you were unhappy with your performance, remember the importance of allowing adequate time for rest and recovery. You just put your body through an incredibly stressful experience and according to Jason Fitzgerald, author of StrengthRunning.com, it can take up to a whole month for your body to fully recover from a marathon.
He says that you can resume exercising (lightly) about a week after the race and after two to four days of cross training you can try running again, but he makes an important point of noting that any running workouts you do should be easy. He advises that you don’t race or run high intensity workouts for at least a month.
So, ease back into an exercise routine and try to enjoy the fact that you don’t have to follow a strict plan or push yourself too hard. There’s plenty of time to train for a new race in the future, so just enjoy the fact that you can relax and have a little bit of fun with your workouts for now.
4. Set a new goal.
Maybe you can’t start training for a new race just yet, but thinking about what you want to accomplish next, whether or not it involves running, is a simple way to overcome feeling lost or without direction or purpose.
5. Explore new exercise.
As Fitzgerald mentioned above, since you can’t return to running right away and will need to ease back into exercise with cross training first, now is the perfect time to try a new exercise that interests you. Yoga, swimming and strength training are all excellent low-impact options for recovering runners, but there are plenty more to choose from, too. Whatever you opt for make sure it’s something that excites you, something that makes you look forward to working out. Something like… what’s that sport you love so much? Oh yeah, running.