How to Beat Post-Marathon Blues

post-marathon blues

Running a marathon requires months of planning, preparation and participation. For months life’s only focus is getting on the running shoes and pounding the pavement – sometimes for hours at a time. Then there is food to think about, avoiding injury, mileage, time, heart rates ... the list goes on.

And then the big day arrives and it’s time to concentrate on what time to complete the gruelling 26.2 miles – and to enjoy it.

Create a Plan for Before and After the Marathon

Most runners will meticulously plan their pre-marathon training but fail to consider their post-marathon training. After all the hours spent running and planning for the big day, the days and weeks after the marathon can seem pointless. The runner’s focus evaporates and before long the hours that were spent running are frittered away in front of the TV wondering what to do next.

For the marathon novice or the veteran who achieves a personal best, the post-marathon blues can set in with an extra vengeance. The achievement of finishing a marathon or accomplishing a new best time can create a sense of euphoria that can last for days. But what happens after the crash? That’s when the post-marathon blues set in and the importance of the post-race plan is at its most evident.

Post-race Plan to Beat the Marathon Blues

After months of putting your body through its paces, your post-race strategy should include a plan to recover without injury. It should also contain plenty of new goals. It is common to acquire a few persistent niggles while in training. It is also common to pick up a more serious injury, which should, of course, be addressed. But for many runners, the aches and pains do not set it until after the big day has been and gone.

Post-marathon fatigue can last for days. Often, runners do not allow themselves to think about the niggles while in training and it is only when they allow for rest that the aches and pains can truly be appreciated. Furthermore, 26.2 miles is a seriously long way to run and the body will let you know it is exhausted. Then there is the dehydration, the sore feet, blisters, the aching back; so it is vitally important not to embark on a premature return to running.

Avoid the Post-Marathon Blues With New Goals

So after a period of rest and relaxation that may include some gentle exercise (but not running), it is vitally important to set yourself some new goals. Dependent on experience, injury and recovery, the rest period should ideally last between a couple of days and a few weeks. During this time it is a good idea to review how the marathon went, eat well and get plenty of sleep.

When considering the next target, the focus could centre on a future race, event (a triathlon maybe?) or an increased fitness level. It could be that you use your marathon training as a base for a new challenge. The new event or challenge should be far enough in the future to allow for recovery but close enough to not allow post-marathon blues to set in and crush any existing motivation.

Although not a physical injury, post-marathon blues can be just as harmful so it’s crucial to set some goals quickly. This could be done before the initial marathon so as to not allow time for complacency.

Completing a marathon can be one of the best feelings ever experienced but can be quickly followed by a bout of the blues. To combat this, return to the start and plan, prepare and participate. Before long, the focus will return and you can be living off the running high once again.

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