The Post-Marathon Hangover

*Apologies in advance to my underage readers for the drinking metaphor - I don't condone underage drinking, and certainly don't advise getting drunk!*

After running the marathon at the Olympic Trials in February, I've had a bit of a running hangover.  Getting amped up for an event as big as the Trials requires you to go all-in, and I did -- for 6 weeks, all I focused on was training. Run, eat, sleep, repeat. All day, every day. It was a privilege to train with this laser-focus, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity.

You could say I was drunk on the marathon - I was living and breathing running, more devoted to training than ever before and focused on a singular goal: running as fast as I could for 26.2 miles on February 13. To continue the drinking metaphor, I was taking shot after shot of long runs and tempos, running farther + faster than I'd ever run before. I felt amazing, not unlike the eurphoia you feel after downing a few pints. With the "liquid courage" of my 6 weeks of binge running, I was ready for a big PR and a top finish at the Trials.

 All smiles in the middle of a joyful 22 miler, feeling ready for 26.2! 

All smiles in the middle of a joyful 22 miler, feeling ready for 26.2! 

But after a very hot day and a slow death march through the streets of Los Angeles, the hangover set in. 

In the weeks following the marathon, I tried to jump back into training, but was quickly felled with a bad upper respiratory illness. I was the sickest I've been in years, which set me back a few weeks in training. Paces that had felt easy in January were challenging in March. The rational side of me knows that this post-marathon hangover is normal, and that it takes time for your body (and your soul!) to recover from a big effort like the Trials, especially one that I was so emotionally invested in.

But even though I know something to be true, it doesn't make it any easier to deal with. Motivation waned, running felt like a chore, and I was struggling. My training log read like a depressing diary: "Sucky run. Woof," "Workout fail," and "Blahhhhhh." Some joyful runner I am, right?

So what's the lesson here? I'm not quite sure - I'm still learning it. But what I do want to share is that it's ok to struggle. We all go through challenging times in running, at work, in our relationships. Even those at the top of our sport go through rough patches (thank you fast friends who have reminded me of this!). As I've said before, not all runs are joyful - though it might not seem that way if you look at social media (I'm guilty of it - I only post my good runs on Strava.) 

Instead of zeroing in on the bad runs, I'm trying to focus on the positives -- i.e. while my workout might have been crap, I did a good job on my strength routine after. I'm also finding joy in the athletes I coach - when they have a good workout or see a breakthrough in training, it makes my day! I'm coaching more athletes than ever right now, and celebrating their progress helps remind me to do the same with my own. And so the teacher becomes the student ;-)

I know this post-marathon hangover will pass (just gotta drink some more water, right?)  - and it needs to soon, since track is just around the corner! I open up my outdoor season with a low-key 5k here at home in Providence on Friday - a rust-buster at Providence College. There's still a TON of work to be done before the Track Olympic Trials in July, but there's also plenty of time. Onward to outdoor!

 

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