This past summer I had the opportunity to be an assistant coach for a group of people who were training for the Fox Cities Full and Half Marathon. They were a highly motivated and fun group. With the exception of a few injuries that were not able to be overcome, most of our runners met their goals.
Shortly after the event, we received a message from one of our participants who said she was having trouble getting motivated to run again. She was concerned there was something wrong with her. Having run many marathons and feeling this many times, I knew what she was talking about. In fact, I am currently having these feelings again as I finish my last month of training for my Karate Black Belt.
I confidently assured her this was a normal reaction. It is kind of like a depression that often happens to a person who puts a lot of effort into one culminating event. My response was simple and appreciated by this person. However, the head coach, Eddie Holzem (2:19 marathon runner), was able to poetically put our participant’s feelings into proper perspective.
Eddie said it best with his response:
“Marathon blues (it’s not from running) – it’s the result of all the work and focus of many months’ worth of physical training and emotional investment – then the next day it’s all over. Kind of depressing. Trying to force a rebound is a mistake too many people make. It takes the bad days to make us really appreciate the good. You are the first person in my 4 years of leading this group to bring up this topic – I am very proud of you because this reveals to me just how invested you were in the achievement of your goals. How lucky you are as an athlete to be able to experience the highs of great training days, the struggles of competition and the emotional depth of what it means to have poured yourself into the journey. It may not seem like it, but this is the reason why people come back for more – you have truly given yourself a gift. This is what it’s all about!”
Basically preparing for a marathon is a major life event. You invest months of time and energy into this one day which is full of pomp and circumstance. However this investment isn’t only of time and energy but also of emotion, which becomes magnified with every obstacle you have to overcome, and typically there will be obstacles. You put a lot into the event. You visualize race day. Race morning of is full of nervous excitement and anticipation. You run the event. You may struggle and hurt but you overcome and cross the finish line. Then all of this comes to an abrupt end. Your schedule is now normal again, but you feel something is missing.
As Eddie said, “You pour yourself into the journey. It may not seem like it, but this is the reason why people come back for more-you have truly given yourself a gift. This is what it’s all about!”