Crossing the finishing line of a marathon is a momentous occasion. After months and months of intense and dedicated training, the sweet satisfaction of heading towards that final stretch – those last few ‘feel-like-they’re-never-going-to-end’ metres, that culminate in a heart-lifting crescendo as your feet, oh your tired, weary feet, pass over that finish line, is such a euphoric experience. It’s called a ‘runners high’. And you can understand why.
But what happens after the race? What happens once the post-race rapture starts to wane?
A sucker-punch, aimed right at the soul. That’s what happens.
“What goes up, must come down”.
It’s true. The sky-high frenzy of fulfilment, experienced during those first few magical moments, hours, even days after the marathon, slowly starts to spiral its way back to earth like a free-falling, foreboding fog. Oh, and let us not forget the COULDA, WOULDA, SHOULDAs. “I coulda run faster”, “I woulda run sub-4, if only it wasn’t for….”, “I shoulda started in the faster pen”.
Sounds like a case of marathon melancholia to me.
Life seems so very…. empty after a race. A giant void, a space that was once filled with interval sessions and planning routes and foam rolling and hydration, cracks wide open, swallowing you whole into a lonely vacuous valley of aimlessness.
Cue dramatic sigh.
When I am not writing, running or writing about running, I spend my days planning people’s weddings. All too often, I receive a phone call from my just-married brides, fresh from their honeymoon, informing me that they feel pretty darn deflated now that the wedding is over. “Is this normal?” They ask.
I assure them that it is.
Marathons, or any race for that matter, are like weddings: A helter-skelter hullaballoo of emotions. They’re a humungous life event. Is it any wonder we crash, headfirst, once it’s all over?
If you’re hoping that I now present you with a list of ways in which to mask your marathon melancholia, or give it a firm boot up the backside, I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. There are plenty of articles out there on the internet though, which offer lots of interesting and informative advice, so don’t worry, I won’t be offended if you choose to leave me now.
If you’re still here, I’ll offer you one golden nugget of wisdom: Marathon melancholia is just an emotion – so ride it out. As the ancient proverb says, “This too shall pass”.
And it will.