Saturday, 16 April 2016

The post-marathon blues


You hear about the post-marathon blues, but you don't think they'll hit you at 2am on the dance floor of a crowded nightclub during the first night out you've had in four months.

You don't think you'll suddenly burst into tears and don't know how to stop. You don't think once the flood gates open they'll be uncontrollable.

You don't think you'll miss the worry and the fear and the anxiety of training. You don't think you'll miss the mornings when you've been awake hours before anyone else in the office or that first intake of cold morning air. You don't think you'll miss your 5am alarm or hours of your Sunday morning lost to long runs.

You don't think you'll grieve. You don't think you'll feel a sense of loss. You don't think you'll miss that sense of purpose, that focus, that need to work towards your goal. You don't think you'll feel a piece of you is missing when you have a weekend free of running.

You thought you'd love having your social life back. But you remember you didn't really like going out anyway, and you realise you'd rather spend a Saturday morning getting a parkrun PB than spend it nursing a hangover. You thought you'd be glad of the extra sleep and love no longer feeling exhausted all the time, but instead you miss that feeling of "I already did something today while everyone else was in bed."

You'll miss the awe of telling people how long your run was this weekend or nervously telling them how many weeks you had to go.

The post marathon blues are real. It was never about the end goal, it was about the journey. After months of dedication to one goal, to achieve it leaves you with no direction. Nothing to work towards. Nothing to strive for.

And you have to mourn that loss. While your body is recovering your mind is too.

Your mind is no longer preoccupied with running maths, pace calculators, training plans committed to memory, fueling strategies. It's done. None of that matters anymore. 

You never thought you'd feel such a sense of loss for something that robbed you of so much time and energy and sleep and sweat.

So what next? "Are you going to do another one?" There is no right answer. The uninitiated gasp when you say yes, undoubtedly, definitely. Those who have been there nod. They know. They understand that nothing is harder than the training, but no relief is like the finish line. 

But another marathon is not as simple as just filling in a form and handing over your money. Training would have to begin in six months. Are you prepared for another winter of 5am alarms and lost Sundays? No, not yet. Maybe the year after, when you've forgotten how much dedicated training requires.

Marathoners are people who never give less than they're all. They're the people who get called crazy because they can't give up. They are the people that will arrange their weekend around that 20 mile run, or turn down their social life for an early night. They're committee, they're dedicated and they'll do whatever it takes. And not having that goal can drive you crazy.

Here's to whatever is next. While mourning the life that I did, the dedication I proved, the training I committed to and remembering the medal I won. Remembering that the training was the biggest challenge. That my medal represents the hundreds of miles I ran in training, not just the 26.2 I did on the day. Remembering that I set myself a goal and I achieved it. Knowing if I can do that, I can do anything. 

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