With many of the big fall marathons behind us, a lot of you runners may be feeling a mixture of elation at accomplishing your goal and a sort of sadness that comes with completing such a large “project.” Some of us coaches call this heavy feeling the “post-marathon blues.”
But wallow not. The feeling is normal – and can pass. The key to shaking it is to get moving again with new goals and plans. Here are four ways to dust yourself off and get your head in the (new) game:
1. Line up next season’s schedule.
First, move your thinking from the past to the future. The best way to do that is to get out the calendar and pick some races that catch your eye. Perhaps you’ve noticed other runners posting about races on their social media accounts. If one sounds appealing, jot it down on the calendar before you forget. A bonus of planning now? Many races have early bird registration prices, not to mention they may eventually sell out. While the calendar doesn’t have to be set in stone yet, working out a high-level plan is a good first step to getting excited about the next phase of your training.
2. Set new goals.
Too often I hear about runners moving forward by simply registering for the same race they just finished. “I’ll try again next year,” they tell me if the race didn’t work out the way they thought it might. Instead, set some goals based on what you learned from your last performance and aim to make positive improvements. For example, a concrete goal might be something like, “I will improve my nutrition and hydration practices in the next race so I don’t run out of energy during the late miles.” Write down these goals and make working toward them a priority.
3. Challenge yourself with new training methods.
Rather than jumping back into your old routine, do a little research and try out some new ways of training. At the moment, you’re likely in good shape from your last marathon training cycle, and you have lots of time to prepare for next year. This is a great time to try some new workouts and see how you do. Take a few weeks to get out to the track, add cross-training into your routine or try a new class at the gym. You may find that some things work well for you and some don’t. Now is not only a great time to experiment, it will also “freshen up” your outlook.
4. Join a running group or tribe, or find a coach.
Whether you’ve been training on your own or with a marathon training group, this is a good time to see what else is out there. Ask your running friends and other runners you encounter about their positive experiences – and then give some of their recommendations a shot. As with your training methods, now is a good time to try out new techniques without the pressure of a race looming. Also, having a good support network can be important as we move into the off-season – rough weather and far-off goals might lead you to slack off. Having a new group to run with or a coach asking for updates provides some additional positive reinforcement to get you out there when you may feel inclined to stay inside instead.
No matter how the season turned out, you can learn a lot from it. Seize this moment to reflect on what you did, what worked and what didn’t. Then make a plan and get excited about improving. Having a forward-looking attitude is a super way to get past those post-season blues and point yourself toward your next adventure!
First published at US News Health+Run Blog: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2015/11/13/how-to-cope-with-the-post-marathon-blues