Training for a marathon is a huge commitment, and that commitment never wanes if it’s your first marathon or your 20th.
Often, many runners get post-marathon blues, a sense of loss.
This is hardly surprising when you consider the saying…
What goes up must come down.
After many weeks of training with yourself and maybe other fellow runners and all the anticipation and some fear and concern, you live your daily life with the constant bedfellow of your upcoming marathon.
Then it’s here, the big day.
And you run it, and all your training pays off, and you feel tremendous accomplishment and satisfaction, and then the question creeps in.
This article is here to help you navigate those marathon blues and turn them into something positive.
Set A New Goal
Let’s start with the most obvious cure for post-marathon blues.
Filling the hole left with your marathon by entering another race, even if it’s not a marathon.
Just entering a race enables your brain to focus on something in the future.
This route is not ideal for every runner, as sometimes another race is not always desirable.
I often feel this way.
One of the goals I often set for myself is within training goals.
It’s often refreshing to train and improve without the potential pressure of a race looming soon.
What Could You Do Differently Next Time?
Looking at how your marathon went objectively over time can be a perfect action.
The distance of time enables you to look objectively at what you felt worked well and what you could do differently.
This can lead to changes in how you train and potential long-term improvements in your running results.
Create A Off Season
One of my favourite distractions after a marathon, if I don’t have another training block, is to create an off-season.
The purpose is to work on areas of improvement.
So, for example, many runners benefit greatly from strength training.
However, some runners find it hard to add this into their training if this is not something they have done in the past.
A time when you can run with less intensity if you wish is a perfect opportunity to build up strength and resilience in between training blocks.
As a marathon runner myself, it’s a great time to work on my speed and shorter distances; this will ultimately transfer to improved running for future marathons. However, the increased intensity is balanced in your off-season with less punishing long runs.
Build Up Your Mental Resilience
Look at your inner games of running and take time in your off-season to consume information that can increase your mental resilience; this can come in the form of books, audiobooks or podcasts.
A great book to read is Steve Magness’s Do Hard Things. I can’t recommend it highly enough if you wish to become a more mentally resilient runner, which will also serve you well if you wish to improve as a marathon runner.
Reconnect With Other Runners.
I personally tend to be a bit of a lone wolf when I train.
I am a member of the Bognor Tone Runners, which I love; however, sometimes I feel the runs I am doing in my plan don’t match that nights running at the club.
This means many solo runs, which I enjoy and feel help build up mental resilience for the rigours faced in those last 6 .2 miles.
However, post-marathon, this reality frees me up to reconnect with my club and many runners at clubs I may have neglected.
Plus a chance to get out on some group runs without the concern if I am in the right zone of effort level.
I know many runners keep high levels of involvement with other runners throughout their marathon training; however, for those like me who don’t, a post-marathon is a great time to reconnect with your fellow runners.
Recover From Your Marathon.
This seems, on the surface, a simple and obvious point; however, many runners post-marathon do not understand the principles of true recovery from a marathon.
My coach Liam Butterworth explains it like this…
Imagine your energy is in the form of a rechargeable battery; post marathon, you might be down to just 10% charge, and you take two weeks rest that gets you back up to, say, 45%
You begin training post-marathon again.
Because of the strains of training, it’s likely your battery won’t get above 45% and will continue to reduce through your next training block.
You might not get the gains you desire in your running, or worse still, you end up injured.
So sometimes, post-marathon takes it easy for a month. Light running is one of the best ways to recover from the post-marathon blues and set yourself up for future success in your next running goal.