“Getting lost? I prefer to think of it as, ‘Going exploring’”

Remember when I said the taper is the hardest part of marathon training? Time to talk about, what I feel is the second-hardest part of training, and this one’s applicable to any distance, not just marathons – what to do after the race is over.

A friend of mine ran her first marathon last spring. Throughout training, she asked me questions and for advice on various things one would expect – how to prevent chafing, how to recover from that horrible long run that makes you break down and cry, how early to get there on race day, those types of things. It never dawned on her to ask any questions about what happens after the race, particularly the one big question that comes for most runners – what do I do now?

She was feeling something nearly all runners experience: The feeling of being lost. Race training consumes much of one’s life in the weeks or months leading up to the event. After it’s over, we go back to “normal” life, but it’s a state of normal we haven’t known for some time. No longer the race-day carrot dangling in front of us, most runners struggle with motivation to keep running, with going back to normal eating, or getting back into a weight lifting routine – in a nutshell, motivation to make healthy choices; the things most people struggle with all the time. But in the post-race phase, it’s a “new normal” that takes some getting used to and some strategy to overcome.

Hello, new friend!

Hello, new friend!

For those struggling with motivation to keep running, I say give yourself a break. Whether you’re still a little sore or just burned out, take some time off from running to explore. Discover new classes at the gym or hit the weights if you never have before. Give yourself the freedom of not having your week dictated by mileage goals or speed work runs. For me personally, this was how I got into triathlons. No longer feeling the need to focus all my time and energy on running, I opted to head outside on nice afternoons to go biking. In the mornings, instead of worrying about squeezing in extra miles on the treadmill, I incorporated lap swimming into my routine; something I had never done but quickly grew to love.

If you need a kick to get back into workout habits, just in general, the best advice I can give is to set new goals. Whether it’s a triathlon, a new 5k PR or just to feel confident baring your arms in summer attire, find something that will keep your inner fire burning. If all else fails, don’t think about working out; rather, make a point to simply get outside and enjoy the nice spring weather. Go walking, take up golf, just do something active that doesn’t feel like working out.

As for advice on how to go back to normal eating, well you’ll have to look elsewhere for that…I’ve been trying to figure out that one for years!

Runners, have you had this same experience of feeling lost after a big race? Those of you who can relate, what are some tips you have for going back to normalcy? Tweet them to me, @runlikeagirl311.


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