Post-Race Depression, An Honest Conversation

First of all, thank you all so much for the positive feedback on yesterday’s Chicago Marathon Recap.  All of your kind words about my post and writing really mean a lot.  It feels great to have accomplished a goal and share it with a community of people who love running and fitness as much as me.  Many of you called my post inspirational, I can only thank you for that.  I hope this blog and my writing inspires everyone to get out and be active and accomplish their goals, I honestly believe anything is possible! Marathon morning I welled up with tears a few times and Michael asked me why I was crying.  I told him it was because it felt so great to be part of a community and run with people who dedicated so much time and energy into accomplishing their goals.  It touched me. So thanks to all of you who keep me motivated and inspired to run and accomplish my goals! I’m just glad to be part of the community!

Now on to today’s topic, Post-Race Depression.  I’ve been wanting to write this post all week.  I don’t think many runner’s talk about this but I feel it’s important to address.  I struggle with this and am sure many others do.  When I was a kid my Mom used to say that I would go from a smile ear to ear to sadness on my face the day after Christmas.  She could always tell I was sad it was over.  The same happens to me with big races. I’m also home sick this week with a horrible cold that is keeping me from getting to the gym, and getting back into my work routine.  It’s throwing off my appetite and quite honestly I just feel sad.

As runner’s and athletes we spend hours and hours training and getting ready for our big race. We sacrifice Saturday night’s out for pasta dinners, movies on the couch and bed early so we can get a long run in early Sunday morning.  We constantly talk about our training, our goals, the marathon to friends, our families, co-workers, strangers and anyone who will listen to us.  We get excited as the weekend approaches, plan out our trips in the city of the Marathon, pick out our race day outfit, and get excited about the Marathon Swag.  As it gets closer to the race we get more and more excited and it consumes more and more of us.  Race day, is all our own.  It’s our chance to show off our hard work, brag a little bit, celebrate with friends and family and take it all in!  Race day belongs to the runners.

But what happens when it’s all over?

I often feel as if there is a void in my life, I get so used to training and thinking about running I feel lost.  Looking at the pictures and recapping the race is great but after a few days it becomes a memory.  We go back to our jobs, unpack our suitcases, wash all our running clothes and eat normal amounts of carbohydrates.  It’s sad.

How do we deal with this?

I like to take a day to be sad. Just one day.  I let myself feel the emotion, miss my friends and family who aren’t celebrating with me anymore, be sad my running clothes are all clean and look at the pictures and wish it could be marathon day everyday.  And then when that day is over I look to the future.  Now is the perfect time to look at your life as a whole.  What didn’t get your attention as much as it should have because you were training?  What happened with your friends that you may have glossed over because of the marathon? And most importantly what do you want your next athletic/running goal be?

For me personally my friendships don’t get as much attention during marathon training.  So an immediate thing for me to focus on is making plans with those friends.  I like to fill my schedule with coffee and dinner dates and even a few Saturday night’s out! I like to spend sometime catching up on my friendships.

Athletically I like to take a few days off.  I like to get some extra sleep and recover.  I then pull up my gym’s website and see what the class schedule looks like.  I haven’t been to my gym in about a month or more.  I do all my runs outside and didn’t have the need to go.  It’s time to go back. I’m envisioning the scale at the gym right now, it’s my first stop.  I think I gained a few pounds during carb loading so I want to know exactly how much I gained.  I want to get into some of the new classes at the gym, and try some different types of cardio.  It should help me drop those marathon pounds.  I also want to get back to the yoga studio, this dropped off the last month and a half.  I’m disappointed in myself that it happened.  It’s going to take me some time to get back into yoga shape but now is the time to do that.  I also want to try some new style yoga classes and attend some of the community classes and events here in Boston. Also, Michael and I are looking forward to some Saturday morning runs…not long runs…just easy 3 or 5 mile runs.

And for future marathons? I’m filling out the forms for Team in Training as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I’m hoping to get accepted to raise money and run Boston Marathon with them this April 2012.  I’m not sure it will work out, but am going to fill out the application and give it a shot.  I’ll keep you all posted!

Additionally I have created quite a list of things I want to post here on my blog, some are yoga related and some are just some interesting running posts.  Regardless, they got pushed aside because of marathon posts. I’d like to spend some time focusing on those and including some variety here at LiveRunLoveYoga.

Michael and I are going to take a weekend trip in early November and are looking forward to a house-warming party for one of our friends.  We are trying to come up with a fun Halloween costumes for a Halloween party too! We have lots to look forward, just not a marathon.

Post-Race Plan

So in summary, I think it’s completely normal to feel sad and depressed after a big race is over.  I like the one day rule, go be sad and wallow in your emotions and look at your marathon pictures! It’s ok! But then sit down, get out some paper and jot down all the things you’re looking forward to, things that have been neglected, and activities you want to try and where you want to go now with your running/athletic goals and make a plan to do all of those things! I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again today…life is short and there will ALWAYS be more marathons!

And a big thanks to you all! I feel SO much better now just writing this post!

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5 thoughts on “Post-Race Depression, An Honest Conversation

  1. Sara @ Run Around Sara says:

    I’m not a marathoner, but I felt the same way in the days after my triathlon! I had spent ALL year training for it, and it was a big deal! I took a week off from any exercising because I was mentally and physically just tired. And in that time, I felt sad, not only mentally, but physically too. My body started hurting when I sat down to watch tv at night. I felt like my body was going through depression instead of my mind. I think my body was just so used to being active that it hurt to sit still! During my week off I signed up for 6 local 5Ks throughout fall and winter and I organized my training plan for an upcoming half marathon. Since that kept me busy and thinking about a future big race, I didn’t really have time to be sad. Maybe I did and I just didn’t notice. I still have my triathlon support signs in my front hall. I see them every day and it makes me smile!

    Thanks for this post. It was great! If you’re interested in my race recap for my first ever triathlon, you can check it out here: http://runaroundsara.blogspot.com/2011/09/title-9-womens-only-sprint-triathlon.html

    Sara

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    • liverunloveyoga says:

      It is sad and I’m sure it goes the same was with triathlons! Congratulations on that goal! I’m definitely ready to get to the gym again and back to my running group. I love leaving some memories of the race and weekend around my house, it makes me feel better to see the signs and keeps me motivated for future events. Good luck with all your 5k’s and your upcoming half! I’ll definitely check your post out! Thanks for reading and definitely come visit LiveRunLoveYoga again soon!

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  2. Randy says:

    Excellent. My marathon is still two weeks away, but I know exactly what you mean. It happens to me after every single big race weekend. I like the idea of having one day just to be sad, to process and get it all out. Plus having more races lined up gives you another goal to start shooting for.

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    • liverunloveyoga says:

      It’s so hard to deal with and I think it’s great to not feel alone in those emotions! Definitely give yourself a day and look forward to those new races and goals. I’m working on getting some new, exciting things lined up and I feel better already! Good Luck in your marathon and all the best with the taper! I’m sure you’ll do great!

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