You spend months training for the big day. You’ve ticked off the runs, spent time and money on the prep, tapered and now raced. Fabulous – very well done! But what next?
Whether you achieved your marathon goal or not, ticking off a big target race can leave a hole in your life. Post-marathon blues are real and it can be tough to shift back into the routine of every day life. Everyone feels differently about this. For some, it’s business as usual. For others, running loses its appeal altogether and they struggle to get out the door. Some want to fill the hole it has left by signing up for their next race and launching into training immediately. Whatever your approach, be kind to yourself, share your feelings, don’t make big decisions immediately and take it slowly in the hours and days after the race. If you’re one of the many who feel a bit bereft, here’s some ideas of how to move on successfully.
- Acknowledge your feelings. Your daily routine, diet, sleep patterns and even socialising may have been built around your marathon training, and this will have increased in intensity in the last few weeks. In addition, stress hormones, tiredness and hunger can play a part in the days post marathon. Don’t be hard on yourself, feeling lost or down is normal and will pass. Signs can be a general lethargy, lack of motivation, feeling down, antisocial, or disappointed – even if you hit your goal. Sharing with others who feel the same can help, and this is where social media and online running groups can come in useful.
- Reflect on your performance. Don’t do this for too long, especially if the race didn’t go your way, but look at what you did right and what you could have done differently, both in training and in the race. Analysing a successful performance may help you replicate it again in future, and if your race didn’t go to plan, writing it down can help you come to terms with your feelings (and not make the same mistakes next time!). Make a note of your thoughts and then put it to one side.
- Note what you miss about marathon training. Was it the challenge? The sense of achievement? The regimented schedule? Having a big target to motivate you? Identifying what you really want will help you when setting your next goal.
- Try something new. This will help replace some of the excitement of marathon training – train for shorter distance, start a new exercise class, run with friends who weren’t running at your pace or distance during training, go off-road, cover your watch, take up cross-training or cycling. Or, just enjoy running with no plan.
- Indulge yourself. Eating after the marathon is a must, but your body will be repairing for several days if not weeks. Relax a little and have that dessert or glass of wine.
- Parkrun? Spectate or marshal at a local race, help others with their training. There is often nothing better to rekindle your love of running (if you have lost it) than shouting at (cheering on) others runners at a parkrun or race!
- Embrace another hobby. Finish that book you started months ago, decorate a room in the house, go hiking, bake cakes – whatever you fancy now you have more time.
- Plan a post-race trip…self-explanatory really. Just try not to plan it around another marathon (yet!)
- Find another fitness goal: a cycling or swimming race or triathlon, a yoga retreat, focus on strength training goals or like some of my clients did a year ago, sign up with an online coach to keep you motivated, whether or not you have a target race. Please contact me on the details below if you want more information.
- When you are ready, find your next running goal. Don’t rush into this, your mind and body need time to rest and recover, and constantly moving from race to race will not help alleviate the blues. But when you are ready, decide what you want to achieve and how you’d best get there. Getting faster? Think about training for shorter races. More social running? What about trail running, an ultra, or parkrun? Want to improve your marathon time? Consider the timeframe and building blocks to this carefully.
Above all, make time for the things you didn’t do whilst marathon training and enjoy them. It’s a great time, once those pesky post-race hormones have passed! When you are ready, embrace your next goal and don’t forget to contact me if you need running support, advice, motivation or even a new training plan for your next target race!
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