Monday, October 31, 2011

Pre Marathon Jitters to Post Marathon Blues

Some of the runners I love (my sister is missing)
If you love a runner, you will understand what I am about to talk about here. The people I am closest too have told me that I have had particularly cranky days leading up to the marathon AND I was told that I have lost a bit of my optimism over the last couple of weeks. I think I can, almost, safely say that I am in a better place today but I still feel it is necessary to address the topic!

Pre-marathon can be a particularly hard time for a runner. I think I mentioned this challenge in my post Truth About Tapering post. First of all, runners have to decrease their mileage pre-marathon and on top of it fuel their body properly. The decrease in mileage for some of us can drive us crazy, not to mention feeling like a sloth as the carbo-loading ensues. It is necessary though. I was particularly lucky to be spending time with the coolest kiddos the weekend before my marathon but any time I was not with them I may have been found shaking my leg and participating in particularly annoying active listening (I was told today that I do this when I am frustrated) with a lot of 'uh hmms' and 'yeps'. The people who practice patience with a runner while tapering are quite possibly the most amazing people. I was the type of person that, even though I may have been a little cranky, wanted to be around people to decompress the entire time. Others may retreat into themselves. Neither tactic is bad so long as the people around the runner understand it is not because of them but instead about the pressure, nerves, anxiety, etc. leading up to the race.

On the other hand, after the marathon is over a runner may struggle with any number of emotions. Again runners are not supposed to run for about a week after the marathon, especially if you are a newbie like me. Well, I did not follow that rule and may have injured myself as a result (I am better now though). Even though a huge accomplishment may have been realized there could be thoughts of 'how do I fill my time now', 'what is next', 'I hate running', 'is there anything more extraordinary or did I already reach my peak'. I had some of these thoughts with the exception of 'I hate running', and as someone put it best today, I lost my optimism. Post-Marathon depression is a real thing! I read one article, although I felt as though it was over dramatic,  that equated post marathon depression to post partum (sp?) depression. If I could find the article again I would link it here, maybe it was just a dream. Regardless after accomplishing a significant goal there can be moments of elation (which I know I felt for a few days) that can quickly fade and turn to sadness when the return to running is less stellar than expected. Again, the people who stick with the runner during this time are the most amazing people. If your runner is suffering after their marathon remind them that it can take weeks, even months, to fully heal. Remind them that they accomplished something extraordinary and should be proud. Tell them to sign up for their next marathon, and if they don't snap out of it appropriately tell them to go and see a freaking therapist; no one should stay in that state for too long!!!

So again, I find this post leaning towards the lens of extreme gratitude. It is because of the people who know and love me that I was allowed to be cranky, super un-optimistic and in some instances a baby! They are the people who have reminded me to stick with it because at some point it will all get better. AND guess what? It did! Today I had my first extraordinary post marathon run!!!

So for all you people who love a runner, national hug a runner day is coming up. November 20th is the day that you need to grab your favorite runner in a bear hug and tell them you love them!!! Being a person that loves a runner can be a challenge but you are a good person for keeping that person close to you!!!


  1. Sarah! I know exactly how you are feeling (pre and post marathon!), post-marathon blues are VERY real. I have experienced them many times (they do get better as you run more), and I know how hard it is to rest when it seems like the only thing that makes you feel better is running.

    My first marathon was in May and I am still recovering from the trauma to my body. Granted, I also had some severe emotional trauma to deal with around the same time, this has been a horrible training season for me due to that my body is just not healed and my mind is not on board yet. I started running again right away after the marathon (and felt great), and now I think I would have recovered better/faster if I would have taken some time off. Most runs are a struggle now.

    Take care of yourself! Enjoy your accomplishment because it is an amazing one! You will be back to running (even marathons!) again and you have nowhere to go, but up from here. Give yourself a hug too! ;) What you are feeling is normal!! Take care, girl! :)

  2. Yay! I'm glad you had your first good post-marathon run!