You did great! You just completed a bucket list goal by finishing your first marathon. So, why do you feel so depressed and anxious? That unsettling feeling of emptiness and aimlessness after competing in a big race is common among athletes. But, don’t worry! It’s completely normal.
Sports psychologist Dr. Kate F. Hays says “Completing a major feat, into which you’ve poured a lot of time, energy, intention, and identity —maybe money, inconvenience, and sacrifice, as well —means that among other things, you’ll probably feel some degree of let-down when it’s ended.” And, the one thing that many runners do to deal with stress and anxiety is run, something you’re not supposed to do in the days following a marathon.
How to Beat the Marathon Blues
- Eat. Refuel and reload with plenty of proteins and healthy vegetables.
- Sleep. Sleeping is the most effective way to relieve stress and take care of your body.
- Find a new hobby. Take a cooking class, plan a trip, or build a model airplane.
- Walk. You can’t run, but you can enjoy a nice leisurely walk in the park.
- Share. Talking about the race experience with others is cathartic.
- Dream big. Research and register for your next big event. Triathlon? Marathon? Relay?
- Develop a plan. Consult with your coach, or begin drafting a new training plan.
- Return slowly. Run or walk (as you feel) with no more than an hour on your feet. Easy does it.
- Reverse-Taper. Slowly build your mileage and intensity.
- Listen to your body. Any signs of injury or discomfort should sound alarms.
- Let your spirit guide you. Return to normal training at the end of the month if you’re physically, mentally, and emotionally ready.