Even though runners may feel fine in the days following a marathon, taking time to recover is a crucial part of preventing injuries. “Easing back into speed and long distances will keep you injury-free. You know that slower friend you have? Join them for runs in the recovery phase and reconnect after you left them behind on race day,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins advises runners to set up a post-race plan ahead of time to deal with any negative feelings that may arise. “Some runners plan for active recovery, with mild walks growing into simple runs over the week. Others go cold turkey on exercise for a set period of time. The key is to focus on whatever has worked for you in the past,” he said. Having a specific post-race plan can help with the aimless feeling some runners experience after a goal race.
For Gomez, a change in mindset is what ultimately helped him overcome his post-race blues. “Once I reset my goals, I was better able to navigate the post-race experience,” he explained. “Thinking long-term and not putting too much emphasis on a goal race is important. Every race and training block improves you overall as a runner.”
For runners, working through post-race emotions is just as important as treating any injuries that may arise. In her New York Times Opinion video, Pappas says, “What if we athletes approached our mental health the same way we approached our physical health? Athletes should feel no shame and get help right away.”
If you experience sadness that doesn’t resolve or if you think you might be suffering from clinical depression, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional.
By Caroline Bell. Caroline has been running competitively since high school. When she’s not writing for the Fleet Feet journal or training for her next race, you can find her looking at cat pictures on Instagram. She lives in Florida with her cat, Jade.