Today marks a week since I reached the finish line, waving at my family who were cheering with me the entire 26.2 miles. My goal is finally accomplished and my dream now a reality. With all six months of planning, preparation and training, I have finally reaped the reward of victory. After I completed the race, I felt like I conquered the world, but the feeling was only a brief one and I wasn’t sure why. When I should be excited about my accomplishments, lately I’ve been feeling down and out.
This is now day seven of my post-marathon recovery, which feel a little like postpartum. Instead, it is known as the post-marathon depression or after-race blues, which affects many runners.
Training for a marathon (or a long-distance race) consumes your life. Although it is thrilling and enjoyable, it also requires high levels of commitment. The focus during those months of training is mostly running and sometimes even for hours. Nothing exist beyond this event, and the mind and body is only focused on this goal, which takes up much time, energy and total involvement. There is hardly any free time. In my situation, even some of my out of town trips with family have included at least one race with my family waiting patiently at the finish line.
According to many psychologist, once the race is over, one may experience a void or an empty space that previously used to be filled by training sessions. The training and preparation that was such a big part of your life is now gone. This is explained through months of preparation. During training, your constantly stimulating the body to release endorphins, which work to improve the runner’s mood and provide feelings of euphoria. This high continues throughout training and peaks on the days close to the final race. After the goal has been met and there is nothing more to keep you stimulated, there is a sudden drop in the endorphin level which causes the unexplained sadness and depression.
Thank goodness there is hope overcoming the after-race blues. Here are a few suggestions provided by some running experts:
- Don’t plan anything for at least a week. Review your performance in the race and analyze the good and the bad that could help you in the future.
- Let some time pass for the burn out phase and then consider setting future goals.
- Spend some time with your family and friends who have missed spending time together.
- Let your body fully recover from the marathon. It’s great to relax.
Sometimes we can experience this type of emotion during our Christian race. When we are first anointed with the spirit, we are on fire. That is the time we decided to train for the race. We are constantly stimulating our minds with God’s word, which improves our mood and our overall relationship. This high continues throughout training and peaks on the days when our faith is strong and we have confidence. While running the race, sometimes we lose focus, and our endorphin levels drop, which could lead to (BBs) ‘Believer’s Blues’.
To ward off the BBs, and maintain momentum in our faith, we have to focus on our goals and training regiment. Maintaining requires the same, if not more, self discipline to grow and stay at peak level in our personal relationship with God. This is done through prayer time, reading God’s word daily, getting involved in the church, and surrounding yourself with other runners who share same beliefs and goals.
Remember this scripture in Joshua l:9 which says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”