You just completed a half or full marathon. Congrats, what an awesome accomplishment. Anyone who has completed a big race knows it’s more about training and works put in over the past months and weeks that often the race itself.
If you’re like me, you might feel a little loss now that the marathon is over. Post-marathon blues are common. You may find yourself analyzing different parts of the race, and whether you had a good performance or poor, it’s hard to not be consumed by your results.
Like my last few marathons, I struggled at mile 22 with cramps and the race beat my body up. Post-race I’ve been thinking about how to modify my training to improve in the future. The other part of me is happy to have a break from running. After four months of training for a 4-hour race, I’m ready for a new challenge.
If you’re feeling lost post-race, here is some advice to manage the weeks ahead.
First, Celebrate: The feat you just accomplished is amazing. Take time to celebrate, step back and acknowledge what you just achieved. Surround yourself with friends and family and share stories and photos. Spread joy and be inspired by running friends who tackled new distances and time goals. Feed off that positive energy as you move forward.
Food Check: After the marathon, I was hungry. I ate whatever I wanted, finally looking myself in the mirror on day three to tell myself to stop. Make sure you set a goal within a few days of a race to get back to good eating habits. Your body will feel better and recover quicker if you're fueling it with healthy nutrients.
Workout Balance: Many runners feel inspired after a marathon and use that energy to immediately sign up for another race. However, some runners like me get energized from mixing up their workout routine. With winter and cooler temps approaching I like to get back the gym with CrossFit, yoga and weight lifting workouts. Mixing up workouts helps me avoid exercise burnout. Understand what motivates you to move forward.
Relationship Focus: Training for a marathon takes a lot of time. Think about family, friends and other commitments that you may have dedicated less time to while training. Find ways to re-energize these relationships now that you are running less.
Evaluate, Set New Goals, and Plan: Post-marathon is a great time to reassess your workout and personal goals. Take time to plan for the year ahead. Write down your goals. Be realistic with what you can achieve, look for new ways to challenge yourself. Personally, I’m planning to focus on endurance and strength building for the snowboarding season. I also plan to increase my trail running as I’m hoping to conquer part of the Appalachian trail in the spring. Have fun with your goals and give yourself flexibility.
Crossing the finish line of a race is euphoric, leaving you with the feeling that you can do anything. Use the period after a big race to step back, celebrate, and concentrate on what to dedicate yourself to next.
Aaron Hewitt, PA-C is a physician assistant with the OrthoCarolina Sports Medicine Center. He is a former assistant athletic trainer with the Minnesota Vikings (NFL) and is an orthopedic provider for UNC-Charlotte and Myers Park High School. He also is a physician assistant manager for OrthoCarolina's PA department and a clinical and surgical preceptor for Physician and Physician Assistant Students. In his free time, Aaron is an avid marathoner, CrossFitter, and yogi and serves as an ambassador for lululemon®.