While life comes with its fair share of uncertainties, there is one universal truth—an undeniable reality of our humanity that no matter what, we must progress. We must push ourselves to be better than the day before. For runners this is particularly true, and one of the greatest tests for a runner is to enter and finish a marathon. Yet there is a common occurrence that comes after finishing a marathon, whether it’s the first one or the 10th, and it’s called the marathon blues.
Preparing for a marathon takes an insane amount of discipline. It requires a level of dedication to not just workout regiments and diet, but to finding what gear enables peak performance in addition to the ability to resist life’s simple pleasures like greasy, salty foods or sleeping in instead of hitting the pavement. Running a marathon means life revolves around prepping the body and mind for 26.2 hard miles. Once it’s over, it’s easy to wonder what’s next.
For one, recovery should be next. The body will have endured great stress, and while that urge to be better than yesterday will still be present, one of the most important things to do when the marathon blues set in is to rest, relax, and enjoy the accomplishment. Even if you didn’t win or finish where you wanted, you still did something most people won’t or can’t do. Take solace in that and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
The time right after a marathon is a great opportunity to catch up on all the regular life stuff you may have neglected in order to train. Maybe you isolated yourself from friends and family to keep yourself in the zone. Post marathon is the perfect time to spend quality time with those people who are wondering where you were for the past few months.
Also, if you have any guilty pleasures (maybe a soft spot for cake), post marathon is the optimal time to treat yourself to the things your pre marathon discipline denied you. You just ran a marathon so pamper yourself however you deem fit. Maybe you didn’t win, but you finished and that’s worth rewarding yourself, so do it.
Finally, the last trick for coping with the marathon blues is to pick the next challenge. With all the reflection and relaxation out of the way, you can finally see what is next. You’ve enjoyed quality time with friends and family, enjoyed “cheating” on your diet, and now that you’re refreshed it’s time to find the next thing on which to focus. After all, there’s always going to be that part inside pushing you to be better and the more focused it is, the more clear the answer to “What’s next?” will be.