Up until this point in my column blogging for the IMT Des Moines Marathon and Half Marathon, I’ve focused heavily on humor of what we put ourselves through mentally and physically when training for the marathon, half marathon, 5 mile, 5k or which ever combination of events that you may be taking on this coming weekend. For this column, it may get a little more “real” with some humor thrown in the mix. This isn’t meant to bum you out or make you sound like you need to go out and get a gallon of “Half Baked” from Ben & Jerry’s….mmmmmmm………but it will prepare you for what will more than likely happen to a lot of “newbs” to this sport.
You’ve been training now for upwards of 6 months to a year for this event….well…most of you have been….and now race day has come and gone. We’ve talked about the “taper madness” and the fluctuations in mood and what that looks like, but the “post race blues” are very similar, from what I’ve been told, to the “baby blues” or postpartum depression. You spend so much time waiting for the day when baby comes home and then BAM!!!!! Your hormones are all over the place and every little thing makes you cry or crazy. Well, the same can be said for the post race blues.
You’ve been training for and planning for this one momentous occasion in your life. This has been something that has consumed your life every day for nearly 6 months. You cross that finish line, you do all of your stuff and celebrate for a few days, and your life just seems to go back “to normal” or what I like to refer to as “B.M.”……stop laughing……also known as “Before Marathon”. Your now in a season that you can call “A.M.” or “After Marathon”. You are also entering what can be known as “FallWinterSpring” here in Iowa. The days are significantly shorter, the nights are significantly longer. The weather is stupid and all you want to do is roll up into a ball with your pumpkin spiced whatever, binge watch Beverly Hills 90210 and never run again. You are eating everything in sight. Everything sucks and you don’t want to do anything. You cry at cat food commercials. That, my friends, is the post race blues.
Here are some proven ways, for me, to make sure the post race blues don’t take over your life and make your significant others hate you more than they hate your stinky running clothes that you left on the floor in the bathroom that smell like you took a bath in a sewage plant restroom….sorry….went on a tangent there….:
- Just know that this will more than likely happen and have a plan on how to deal with it
- One of the best ways that I’ve found that I have dealt with the post race blues is to have your schedule defined. I’m very blessed to have a group of dudes that I run with on Monday mornings all year round. No matter the weather (except for lightning and ice) we are out doing something. We have a structure of what we are going to do and they keep me accountable. I look forward to that time with them and it’s a great way for my mind to know that I am going to be out running again once I’ve allowed my body to heal
- Talk to people
- If you’re feeling beat down from the experience and now you feel like you have nothing to look forward too, talk to people. Meet up with other athlete friends of yours and tell people what you’re feeling. Leaning on people during these times isn’t weak, it shows that you care about your mental and physical health. Athletes understand and are willing to talk and listen.
- Depression is real and you need to make sure that you share with other people what you are feeling.
- I know that this may sound silly, but your body needs that time to recuperate from months and months of training. The heat training, the hills, the speedworkouts, the fartleks (still one of my favorite running terms 🙂 ) and everything takes so much of a toll on your body. Allow some time to recover.
- Get more sleep. Sleeping helps your body and mind heal.
- Eat and drink
- Eat and drink your health back. Now, I’m not talking about gas station burritos or all you can eat buffets. I’m talking, good, whole foods. You’ve spent the last few months being able to shovel in anything that you want after runs and it just burns off like crazy. Now is the time that you focus on good solid nutrition. Look up some new recipes that aren’t super high in fats. Go to Hy-Vee and try some new fruits or vegetables that you’ve always seen but have never tried. Experiment with things and drink tons of water
- Get something on the calendar
- I know that this is probably the last thing you want to do, but get something on the calendar. It doesn’t have to be a marathon or half, but get a 5k or 10k on the calendar out a month or two. This gives you something to focus on but not a huge life shift back into heavy training
- Just run
- It sounds so simple, but now is the time that you can just run for fun. If the treadmill makes your head hurt just thinking about it, explore some options on ways to train in the cold winter months. I’m a firm believer in the philosophy of “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear”. You can find gear to fit any season. You’ve built a huge base of fitness. Don’t let it go to waste. This is the best part of the year because you aren’t in a heavy training phase and you can get back to enjoying those morning, lunch or evening runs.
Everyone is going to recover from these race experiences differently. These are ways that I’ve been able to deal with things. I’m 17 ultra distance races in and I can get hit REALLY hard with this stuff. It’s serious and for some can be dangerous. Talk to your family. Talk to your friends. Meditate if that’s your thing. Spend time in prayer. Seek out professional help if necessary. We all want you to be safe and back next year, still loving it and injury free.
I can’t wait to see you all out there. I’ll be working the Fitness Sports booth probably Friday afternoon if you want to swing by and say hello. I love selfies so be ready 🙂
Stay Strong, Run Long