Help Pepper Get Her Spice Back: The Post-Marathon Blues

This about sums up my feelings lately. Image via Wikipedia.

You can’t spell Pepper without “Pep” and I am not going to lie Salty readers, this pepper has lost the pep in her step since Boston.ย  I have most certainly had my share of post marathon blues in the past but I am surprised to find myself here right now when I have so many other great things going for me. I have honestly been looking at the world with rose colored glasses since about two weeks after my serious low in September last year.ย  After having fun on literally every run from October through Boston I am not happy to report that the love of running just isn’t there every day right now.

What is wrong with me? Where is my motivation? Where is my perky self? I have a few theories and hopefully by being proactive I will get that pep back this week and start working towards happy running again!

I’m trying to figure out why I’m struggling so much right now. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

1) My next goal race is not until July. For the first time in a very very long time I do not have a big running goal on the horizon. It’s hard to get motivated when you aren’t sure why you’re running 70 mile weeks with 30 mile weekends. Yes I have Columbus in the fall, and the Great Lakes Relay in July, but those seem so distant right now. Plus I am kind of viewing this year as a building year. I don’t have a fire in my belly right now to really get after it.

2) Work stress + racing a hot marathon = slower than normal recovery. My body just doesn’t feel “right” yet. The recovery schedule I would normally follow isn’t working this time around for some reason.There are lots of variables here and I am to blame for some, but sometimes life just gets in the way of a quick marathon recovery. And instead of runs leaving me feeling better I am struggling to run easy paces and my legs are way sorer than I would like!

Well that makes sense. Stress feels like the opposite of desserts to me! Image via

3) No structured schedule. Instead of using the work stress as motivation to sneak in some easy stress relieving miles I let it overwhelm me and keep me off schedule. My sleeping habits are whack right now and I have been slacking off on basic body maintenance like vitamins and PT. I need to get back in the habit of a schedule that allows me to train like I mean it!

4) A change in priorities. For the first time in a long time running is not my #1 priority. In the past I would have put my training 1st always, above everything else. Now, though running is still a major priority, there are other things in life that take precedent for me. Figuring out how to maintain my level of running fitness while not making it priority #1 is new to me and I am struggling with what that means for my training and potential.

Can you blame me for wanting to skip a few miles to hang out with this guy? He even comes with desserts!

Figuring out why is the first step. Now I have to figure out what I can do to lose the funk and get the spice back ASAP!

What do you think Salty Readers? What have you done in the past to get motivated without any key races on the direct horizon? How do your force yourself into a schedule when there are so many fun options to entice you otherwise? What is it that makes us runners so negligent of simple things like eating right, sleeping right, getting in our cross training and supplements? How do you handle making running a priority when other life stuff suddenly seems so much more important?

Please share your tips for coping with the post marathon blues. I need all the help I can get!

A gal on a mission to save Cuyahoga County streams one storm water facility at a time. An ex runner of many facets including marathons, pacing, ultras and more. Chronic left side issues have me cycling more than running these days but I'm attempting to get back to my running roots.

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  1. Honestly when I need a running blues pick-me-up I have found that mentally I need to stay away from everything running related for a few days. Most of my friends are runners and I cant hang out with them without hearing about this workout or another. It’s overload. I just need a break sometimes and usually after 3-4 days I’m itching to get back…at…my….own…pace. That is the key. Just run carefree and fun without a watch and remember what it was that got you into running in the first place.

    Hang in there! I’ve definitely had the post marathon funk before and it’s no fun!

    1. Thanks Kris! This post was actually written on Friday and I am glad to report as of this morning I am feeling much more like my usual self! Though it definitely took a few more days of suffering to get there! There are so many variables at play here, but I agree with your approach of getting away from all things running and getting back into it sans watch! I did that last year after my big injury hiatus and it worked very well!

  2. I gotta say when I read this post warning bells are going off left and right. You cannot FORCE pep and enthusiasm. You’ve tried that before. I think you really might need to take a break. Maybe just a few days or maybe a couple of weeks. We’ve both been down this road and it doesn’t lead to a happy place. I know all the other factors that encourage you to just tough it out, but we gotta get tough ourselves and stand up for ourselves when we just can’t stick with the program for a short time without hurting ourselves. One week of running when you want and whatever pace you want won’t hurt your long-term prospects. Pushing through when you feel rundown like this will. That’s what it looks like from my vantage point, but I support you no matter how you handle it! Love you! I know it’s hard! If I can help just let me know!!

    1. Thanks girl! I’m on the mental (and physical) mend! Iron pills, more Vitamin C, less booze, better attitude, less pressure, PT! We’re getting there ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. I agree with Salty! It is so hard to have the post-run blues, but the only thing that seems to work for me is riding it out. And staying busy with positive activities that challenge me (i.e. yoga-ugh!) in the meantime. Then one day, I wake up and I’m ready to start training my face off again:)

  3. I agree with what Kris said. I don’t know what I am more scared of….running a marathon to qualify for Boston or the recovery that will follow running a marathon to qualify for Boston. If it makes you feel any better, my training partner was going through the same funk after Boston this year too. She completely tanked and it was devastating to her. The only thing that gave her an ounce of determination was signing up for the Cleveland Marathon so she could pace me and qualify for Boston next year. I do have some races planned after the marathon (a 5k two weeks after and a marathon relay). I have the longer term goal of the Akron marathon as well in the fall.
    I think you were spot on with #3. You have got to get back into the habits of PT and taking the necessary vitamins and supplements that you normally do. I know that if I fall by the wayside with any of those, myself, I am lucky to even feel about 50% my normal self. I hope you get back to being 100% you soon!! I love following your racing accomplishments:).
    One more thing…it is ok to push running to #2 when #1 is someone important in your life;).

    1. Thanks Michelle! Hopefully you will fly through Cleveland and the recovery process! I apparently just needed a little more time than normal and need to behave with the extra curricular body maintenance! Feeling much better today ๐Ÿ™‚ The post was definitely cathartic if nothing else! Sometimes it’s nice to admit when you are feeling less than stellar!

  4. Sounds like you should take a week or two off. I have found sometimes I need a real break mentally as much as physically post-race. Sleep in, enjoy the extra time you have and regroup. You’ll be so much better off than if you try to force it. Relax and reset before you jump into your next training cycle.

    1. Thanks Mint! Thankfully for me I think this time around it was just getting those other ducks in line rather than needing a full blown time off period. Will keep you posted though I am feeling much perkier after having behaved for a few days with the diet, vitamins, sleep etc!

  5. When I’m feeling burnt out, I usually take a week off of exercise all together and do some sort of food-based cleanse (really just focus on my nutrition and eating super clean). It is usually really tough, but by the end of the week, I’m itching to MOVE and feeling a lot more energetic because of the super healthy eating. I usually ease back into my running schedule by adding some different cross-training activities that keep me motivated and don’t let me put all the focus back on running. After a few weeks, I’m usually back where I wanted to be and actually feeling a little stronger! Good luck on getting through your rut.

    1. Funny you mention the cleanse Rachel as I have been considering doing something like this for awhile. I’m not sure I will do a full blown cleanse but I do think it would be fun to see how clean I can eat for a few weeks and note the body’s response in training from it! I must sadly admit booze and treats have been consumed in high quantities by yours truly post marathon! Probably not a coincidence that I am starting to feel better the past few days as I cut back on those things and focused on getting in supplements and PT ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. You looked good tonight! I liked those buns ๐Ÿ™‚ I agree with the above commenter though- if it gets too dull, take a 5-7 days off. 3 may be enough but I find after 5-7, I start itching bad!

    1. Thanks girlie! I did feel pretty good last night, though clearly not as zippy as coach would have liked ๐Ÿ˜‰ My attitude is definitely better! I think it’s a good sign! This morning may arguably have even been my “I’m back run.” 5:30 wake up call and i still felt perky and talkative the whole morning run, that’s a good way to start the day after a late night of track and birthday celebrations!