Getting the Post-Marathon Blues…Pre-Marathon

I’ve long known I have a lousy personality. I’ve written as much many times. In five days I’ll be trying to Barcelona Marathon 2013run a marathon after months of training and all I can really think about is: and then what will I do?

While I was training, I read lots and lots of articles on running. One of the things that really stood out was the amount of material available on post-marathon blues. There I was, hating almost every single minute of my training: the boredom, the loneliness, the freezing cold, the rain, the snow, the mud, the puddles, the pain, the injuries…and there were people out there telling me that once it was all over I’d feel depressed. They were saying that all that training gives the runner a sense of purpose and a routine. Once it’s done, runners feel loss. It all sounded crazy to me. I couldn’t wait for it to all be over.

Yesterday I did my last training run and I already feel a horrible sense of loss. Training for this marathon took over my life for many months. My whole life revolved around my training schedule, my workouts with my personal trainer, and my visits to the physiotherapist. I ate to fuel myself up, iced and stretched to recover, swam to get rid of lactic acid, saunad to relax tight muscles. I put many other activities on the side burner because I needed my weekends for the long runs and non-activity days to rest.

And now it’s all done.

I’m freaking out about the marathon, of course. After many visits to my physiotherapist, she has told me that she is pretty sure that my recurring tendonitis is the result of a lack of proper mobility in my ankle. So she’s been doing an extremely painful maneuver on my foot every few days in order to make my ankle more flexible. We both think it’s working. If it does, I shouldn’t get this recurring injury during future training runs. It seems to be working, but my leg is not completely back to normal. And I’ve lost precious training runs, and thus running fitness, while allowing my leg to heal. So the last six weeks of my training haven’t gone exactly to plan. I’ve done lots of cross-training to keep fit. Whatever amount of time I would have spent running, I spent instead on an elliptical. I spent almost four hours on that darned elliptical one afternoon. And in the past two weeks I’ve been easing back into running. I will not be standing at that start line of the Barcelona marathon on Sunday in tip-top shape. There’s nothing that can be done about that. What makes me accept all this is that I know that I have done everything I possibly can to get myself to Barcelona in the best shape possible given the circumstances. I’ve been smart about my training. I’ve followed a program. I’ve increased my mileage gradually. I’ve been very careful about recovery. And when I’ve had problems, I have immediately gone to the experts and followed their advice.

Will I manage to cross that finish line? I have serious doubts. I don’t know if my leg will hold up. Neither does my physiotherapist. She told me that I could run and that if the pain gets bad I will know to stop. I have a plan to run 5km lengths in the marathon followed by short, quick recovery walks. All I can do is see how it all goes.

But then what? I’ll need to give my body a decent amount of time to recover after this marathon whether I cross the finish line or not. I have some normal life stuff to keep me busy, but I’m already missing the purpose my training has given me.

It’s not like I don’t have other plans and dreams lined up. I’m signed up for an event in the beginning of May. It’s nothing as challenging as a marathon, but it’s something new and challenging for me to look forward to. But with this marathon, that will be it. That will be the end of my grand adventure for 2015.

My grand adventure, it turns out, was the actual training for it. And now that is done.

Perhaps I’m just shifting my angst over the marathon to an angst about what happens afterwards. Maybe it’s my defense mechanism to avoid worrying about the marathon. But I know this feeling. I have experience with this feeling. There is something out there calling me. I have several ideas what it might be. And I have to be patient until I can answer its call. How great would it be to have unlimited resources to do everything we wanted to do when we wanted to do it? But we don’t. So we wait. We plan. We work within our means. And we dream. Dreams that will take us great places once again…eventually…one day.

 

I hope to run the Barcelona Marathon on Sunday, March 15, and I have dedicated my training and my run to raise funds to cover some medical costs of a dear friend who has recently been diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a rare form of cancer. Please read their story and learn what this diagnosis has meant for them. So far, I have raised about 1/4 of my target amount through online and personal donations. Everything that has reached me has already been sent to my friend. But we need so much more. Please help me save my friend’s life. Visit http://www.gofundme.com/runningforlife for details on how to donate online. Every little bit will help.

7 comments

  1. I love the idea that it’s about the training journey and not the actual race. Having said that I’m sure you’ll have an amazing race – they always go better than planned! Best of luck.

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