Let’s start out with the some times forgotten obvious. Running a marathon or ultramarathon is HUGE FREAKING DEAL! According to the 2018 National Running Survey 518,916 runners completed a marathon, and 113,565 completed an ultra marathons. Of the adult population, that’s roughly 0.18% completing a marathon and 0.04% completing an ultra marathon. The Harvard University acceptance race is 5.4 %, and the chance of getting attacked by a shark is 0.0000125%. So, completing a marathon or ultramarathon is somewhere between getting into Harvard and getting attacked by a shark, which sounds about right.
Most marathon and ultramarathon runners only have a few focus races in a year. Usually these take months of planning, training, dedication, and sacrifice. But, no matter the “A” race distance, the post race slump in emotions are similar, with varying severity dependent upon the length of the race.
The toll this takes on a body is still being understood. While more seasoned and fit runners seem to recover easier and quicker at times, there’s usually a mental slump that follows. I call it the post race blues. After the huge systematic demands a race requires, combined by the resetting of the daily routine now that a bit of recovery time is called for, it’s no surprise that some mental turbulence comes along. Over the years I’ve found a couple ways to diminish this period.
The first is acceptance. It’s impossible to be in peak shape every week out of the year. There is no physiological free lunch, and the dues have to be repaid. So, accept that part of this healthy cycle is a dip in motivation and fitness. Running may not seem terribly appealing, and feeling down or anxious may pop their heads. This is absolutely normal. It’ll take time to feel fresh again. During those first runs back, whe the legs feel like they’re learning how to walk again let along run, think of it as a badge of honor, reflective of the effort put into the recent training and racing.
The second is getting outside. A runner goes outside, so, by the laws of “yea, no shit,” being outside and moving is most likely part of any runner’s regular routine. So, find different ways to get all the benefits from the outdoors. Easy walks or bike rides, morning coffee on the patio, camping, picnicking, etc. Be creative, or not, but get outside. There a host of ways to be outside besides running. Now is not the time to become one of those people who “hate the outdoors.” Ick.
Finally, don’t become a pure loner. Share this time with others. This time of recovery and rebuilding is a great time to go on more of those super easy social runs, fit in more time with friends and family, and spend more time with important people in life. Us introverts know that this has it’s time limit, but quality time with others is an antidote to many lower key struggles that are apart of life.
Post race blues don’t always happen, but if they do, it’s ok. It’s apart of the process. And with a couple minor tweaks, the feelings diminish significantly
~Get Out and Get After It. Happy Running Ya’ll~