Marathon Blues… How to beat the post race depression!

I didn’t expect to feel I have since the London Marathon, but is anyone else feeling some serious post race blues?

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Last week I felt lost. With no training plan and forced rest I didn’t know what to do with myself. Don’t get me wrong, my body was craving some time off which I really did like. But, mentally I struggled with no focus, target or goal to work to. Some people will think I’m bizarre, but I know a few people will also really relate to this.

There was a hole in my life (OK, slight exaggeration – I love to be a drama queen). But something was missing and my emotions were all over the place. I didn’t quite hit my target finish time at London (although it was a 12 minute PB!!) so I was trying to process it all at the same time. I had worked so hard for 16 weeks and although at times it was really tough, I really enjoyed this training cycle.

 

We’re now almost two weeks post marathon and I’m feeling a lot better. But after speaking to various people, it seems everyone is taking their recovery quite differently…

There is no one size fits all.

Back in 2014, after my first marathon, I ran here and there but in reality it took me around 3 months to get back into running after I joined a running club. Last year it took me a mere few days, and I ran a 5K PB only 6 days after the marathon. This year, it seems like my body is taking a lot longer to recover. I have a physical job so can’t hide away from it, but I know in myself, I’m not fully there yet.

 

So, I hold my hands up, I’m feeling the post marathon blues! I’ve been working on overcoming this and have put my thoughts down into this blog post. This is how I’m going to combat the marathon void in my life. I also hope this helps anyone else who may be feeling the same.

 

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Strava, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram can all be your worst enemy at this stage. You see other people ‘boasting’ about the track session they’ve just smashed out, the circuits class they’ve ‘bossed’ and the runs they’ve really enjoyed only a few days after their marathon. But you, you feel lethargic, tired and demotivated. Don’t fret about what others are doing. Run when your body and mind want to. Not because others are.

Don’t be afraid of taking a week or even two off of training. You’ve probably just come out of a solid 4 – 6 month training plan. Starting back too soon can lead to injury and this is the last thing you want at this stage.

Listen to your bodies signals and run when you next feel like it. Start with easy paced runs and go out with friends.

Remember your reason to run, it should be fun and enjoyable.

 

BOOK A NEW RACE
Now this isn’t for everyone, but having a new goal helps me to keep focused.

The week after the marathon I only ran twice. One was 3.7 miles in memory of Matt Campbell #FinishForMatt and the other was a local park run. That’s literally a warm up in comparison to my marathon training mileage and I really relaxed my nutrition.

But after a week off I now need some focus. I’ve got a few 5K and 10K races over the summer lined up and then have booked a couple of Autumn half marathons now booked. These will be my new targets and I look forward to working towards some new PBs. With that, I will need a new training plan – YAY!

I also have a 5K race this weekend. So, after my week off, I wrote myself a one week training plan. If I hadn’t of had this, then I definitely would have skipped the gym yesterday and not attempted a speed session on Tuesday. Having something written down really keeps me focused and accountable.

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SOCIALISE
Marathon training can impact your social life. You have to cut back on alcohol, stay in on Saturday nights in favour of early Sunday runs, watch your nutrition to fuel your performance.
Throw all of these out of the window for a few weeks and catch up with friends, enjoy a meal or two out, indulge in a few glasses of wine or beer and remember what it’s like to not wear trainers for once!

Marathon training can really take over and it’s so important to regain back some of the things you may have sacrificed during those training months.

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CATCH UP ON SLEEP
Intense training and race adrenaline, can really disrupt the body. There will be a few hormones rushing all over the place. I find that my sleep is quite broken around the time of a big race and I’m certainly feeling tired this week.

Stay in bed on a Sunday rather than getting up for an early long run. Get some early nights. Relax in the evenings, read a book, have a bath.
Getting extra sleep will also help you to recover quicker.

 

TRAIN DIFFERENTLY 
Now is the time to try that exercise class or yoga session you once wanted to try out! Go for a swim at your local swimming pool. Go for a long walk around a local park.  Introduce different forms of exercise into your routine that may be easier on the body than the impact of running.

Get the blood flowing back round the body, get the muscles warm and continue to loosen the joints. When you feel like you’re ready to run again, your body will respond better.

SET NEW GOALS 
One of the best purchases I made was a chalkboard. 
On this chalkboard I then set myself new targets for every distance, 5k, 10k, half marathon etc. It gives me a new fresh mindset and fire in my belly.
Make them realistic and achievable but they should also kind of scare you. You may not reach them the first race you enter, but it gives you a new goalpost to reach.

 

JOIN A RUNNING CLUB
This may not apply to everyone. But back in 2014 after my first marathon I really felt lost. I had trained on my own, slogged out the long runs in the cold, wet and pouring rain.

I realised that I needed to run with people, as the summer months were approaching, running on my own just wasn’t as fun. So I turned up to the Redway Runners club run one Monday and the rest is history. Everyone was so friendly, welcoming and I wasn’t the slowest one there. No one is, because they included everyone with loop backs and keeping the group together.

Joining the club was one of the best decisions I made and I don’t think I’d be where I am right now, in this coffee shop, writing this post if I didn’t turn up that very day. Our membership is £5 a year, more than the cost of the two coffees that I’ve had whilst writing this post.

From joining the club, I found new motivation, a sense of direction, made best friends for life, the opportunity to be part of a wonderful community and also found myself a boyfriend in the process! I’m now a run lead and it feels great I can give back to the club only a small piece of what it has given to me.

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And last but not least…

BOOK A HOLIDAY
Not a mandatory step, but it seems to work for me.

I’m off soon to Greece for some sunshine, beach runs, Mediterranean food, wine, lots of laughs and memories to be made!

I know the last 10 days or so have been hard. But I can also see forward to the future and look forward to what’s next to come!

 

 

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One Comment

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  1. Thank you for this post Katie, i needed to hear(read) this. Just ran my first marathon, did exceptionally well but now im feeling so lost and depressed. I will definitely consider your suggestions.

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