Conquering the Post-Marathon Blues

Post-marathon blues are not unlike post-anything-else-blues. There’s the build-up to the thing, the thing, and the post-thing. Depending on how big a thing this is, the post-thing can be equally big. We are told to fill our schedules with other things during the post-thing period. This I have tried. No matter how many new things you try, it does not always compensate for the thing you’d rather be doing, in my case running.

After 7 full days of rest, I rode the bicycle twice and I have run twice. The calf muscle hurts, the ankle is a little sore but clearly the worst issue is my little toe. Of all the injuries a runner can have, I would have never thought it would the little toe that brought me down. Recovery will take awhile.

It’s common to compare the post-marathon blues to coming home after the honeymoon following a big wedding. A coach that was giving a training clinic used this analogy when a guy in the back grumbled, “Good Lord, it can’t be that bad.” Then another guy says, “I’ve been married 3 times and the let down keeps getting worse!” A new analogy is probably in order.

imageThe worst post- issue for me is not having a daily training schedule. Where my little red calendar told me the number of miles I would run every day, it now speaks nothing. It contributes to that void you feel in the day.

The advice usually given is to plan your future during this time. Determine next year’s training plan, pick out the races you’ll run next. This is all good advice. And what do you do with the other 6 days of a 7-day rest?

Try filling the running part of your day with a different sport of sorts. Since we aren’t to do anything stressful to our muscles for 2 or 3 weeks, go for a walk, sign up for a yoga class or learn to meditate. Don’t be overly critical of yourself initially because you feel this new sport is a waste of time. You might even feel like its silly. This new sport will aid in the recovery of your favorite sport and can make you stronger. And, if you give it a fair chance you may discover a sport you enjoy enough to keep it on for cross training when your running resumes.

imageLike other post– topics, the length of time it takes to get through these blues vary from runner to runner. There’s not even a rule of thumb as to when it may begin. For me, I was squarely in the blues the day after the race, it subsided while we went sightseeing and started back up when I returned home.

Some days I’ve been more successful filling the time than others. I took one of the dogs for a walk down by the track a few days ago. A track buddy stopped me and asked what on earth was wrong with me? It seemed too much a shock to see me in regular clothes and not running on the track. I haven’t done that again.

But today I’ve started a new attack on the post-thing blues. My husband has devised a new strengthening routine for a nice change of pace. Since stressing the muscles is not allowed for another week, I will start easy – work just hard enough to occupy the running part of my day but not so hard that I feel gloriously energized by this new effort.

I’ll save that euphoria for when I’m clearly not in the post-thing phase – for the day that I am finally running again.