It can happen whether you run a PR (personal record) or a PW (personal worst). Post marathon blues are real and it is more common than you think. Know that you are not alone.
In 2019 I had a decent race at Boston running 3:00:26 and placing 4th in my age group. It was somewhere between my PR of 2:53 and my PW (personal worst!). I am experienced enough to know that being objective and finding success in the experience is important: I qualified for Boston, I got to the start healthy, I finished strong, 3:00:26 is a great time for a 47 year old female, placing 4th in age group is amazing, and although I was sore immediately after, I didn’t have any injuries. I celebrated ALL of this. I KNEW those things but I also knew that my 2019 Boston time didn’t reflect my fitness.
And although I had a decent race that I celebrated, I could feel IT already. I was a bit moody, teary, and unsettled. I ran 1,110 miles in preparation for that Boston (beginning 1/1/19). I had a couple of 100+ mile weeks, and numerous weeks I ran doubles. I gave up fun races and activities. I tried to dial in nutrition and focus on recovery. Every day I had a goal and purpose. Structure. Focus. Motivation. Now what?
After focusing on training for months, I felt blah. I just wanted to sleep and I didn’t feel like doing much of anything. Although it may not be a clinical diagnosis, there are physiological and psychological reasons for post marathon depression.
How can we combat PMD? Here are some suggestions:
- Write it down (or talk about it). Let it out through journaling or talking to a caring friend.
- Perspective. Keep the race in perspective. If it didn’t go the way you wanted, think of it as a training run for your next race.
- Give Back. Volunteer at a race or help out at one of the many great running programs like Girls on the Run.
- Get Outside. This one helps me a great deal. I am used to running outside and nothing can boost your mood better than fresh air and sunshine. If you are too sore to run, go for walk or hike.
- Future Goals. It can help to plan out your future racing schedule. Find your next race and commit to it by registering or making plans with a friend.
- Cross Train. After long, heavy training cycles, running legs can benefit from some cross training. Try a new sport or revisit an activity you had been ignoring because of your running.
- Go For a Run. We all need rest days and recovery periods, but short easy runs of 30 minutes can boost your mood and help you maintain the fitness you worked so hard to build.
Remember, PMD is real and more common than you think, but it will pass. Pamper yourself for a few days, but do not dwell. If you want to build on your fitness, have a plan and do not let weeks go by without running. I plan on getting outside later and playing soccer with my son, but right now, I think I will go nap!