On October 7th, I experienced one of the best days of my life when I finished the Chicago marathon. It was a magical day, from beginning to end, and one that I will replay in my mind for years, and even decades, to come. In an earlier post, I discuss my second chance at training for a marathon, a goal that was 10 years in the making. And on this overcast, fall day in Chicago, this dream-goal of mine became a reality. I crossed the finish line with my hands up high in a sign of triumph. Nothing could take that perma grin off of my face...
...until after I accomplished this goal. After spending the better part of 2018 training and gearing up for this moment, I've spent the last 6 weeks in a slump despite another major positive change in my life (a topic for another day, but I've recently changed jobs). I've started referring to this period as the post-marathon blues and a period for which I was wholly unprepared.
While in this post-marathon haze of feeling down and out, I've had to re-calibrate my mindset and refocus my energy. Here are some of my tips to combat your own post-achievement blues:
Don't quit cold turkey. After running a marathon and training for months, it was easy to stop running for a little while (and my legs thanked me for the respite). However, I miss running- the discipline, the routine, the feeling. Even though it might be difficult to sustain motivation, quitting cold turkey whatever you have been working so hard towards automatically lends itself to feelings of loss, both of purpose and of a goal. So it's best to taper down whatever it is you have been doing, unless you are burned out from it. In my case, I love running outside so I've been running outside on the weekends despite the cold. And I just joined an indoor running studio so I can run on a "special" treadmill that is kinder to my legs.
Re-focus on other areas of your life. While I loved training for the marathon, by the end, it was all-consuming. I now have my weekends back! I can sleep in on Sundays! I can indulge in a glass of wine (or two) on a Saturday evening. I can spend some quality time with my children and husband. By trying to focus on the areas of my life that I had been neglecting, I've been able to emerge from this slump by redirecting my attention to these areas.
Set another goal. I approached the Chicago marathon thinking that my goal was to complete one marathon in my life. In the past six weeks, I've realized that what I miss so much is working hard towards something. And for me, these goals tend to be athletic-related. Having completed one marathon, I'm reassessing the "only one marathon" notion and thinking of training for something else. In coming up with a new goal, I've tried to have fun in the process. I'm also discovering new things about myself and my resolve to compete and constantly improve.
Meditate. Doesn't it seem that everything these days can be cured by meditation? You have weight issues, meditate. You feel down, meditate. You feel lost and unmotivated, meditate. And the list goes on. But I just started to meditate (read my post on the importance of creating a morning routine) in earnest and I can honestly say that I feel different when I am meditating. Even if it's for 5 minutes a day. So when all else fails, meditate 😉
Have you ever felt low or depressed after having completed a major achievement? What strategies and tactics worked for you? Please share your thoughts below!