Read a Runner’s World article about Neuromuscular Fatigue (http://bit.ly/HLlNzC) last week and really hit home about what I dealt with last year when I ran two marathons in a span of 20 days. The mind-body connection is a tricky one. Your mind can tell your body “If you ran a marathon while taking walking breaks every 5 minutes, just imagine how you will do by taking then at the end of each mile!”
Yeah, but the body knows you already maxed it out by running the first one and being out there for 5 hours. Good luck trying to attempt that again within the next month…
It was a lesson learned, but this article was important because it pointed out the beyond the body, there’s another part of you that needs a rest – your mind. It seems as if the mind prepares for a marathon just like your body does. It logs into your subconscious all of your thoughts, feelings, high points of your training, the low points, and everything in between. Just as your body heals up after a long run, your mind is also recoiling upon itself, storing the confidence that you survived another run and gets you ready to face the next one. After you apply that training (by running the actual marathon) your body AND mind need a rest.
For those of us that have run multiple marathons, this will come as no surprise. In my earlier marathons, I had what I can only term as a post-marathon depression. I’m not claiming that its anything that women go through after the birth of a child, but it was a down time similar to the after Christmas Blues that kids go through about December 27th. You have look forward so long to the big event. You run it and blam – the day of the event never ends, but the days afterwards you get the blues from realizing it came and went. I’ve run bad marathons and good ones, and at least for me, that feeling is pretty close to the same. The actual result doesn’t make the blues any shorter. You just look back at what could have been. If you run a bad one: “Man, if only I had only run slower the first half, I could’ve finished at least 10 minutes sooner”. If you run a good one: “Man, if only I would’ve picked up my pace a little earlier, my time would have been unbelievable.” But th real truth is that you are just blue because your version of a running Christmas just passed.
Of course, the answer to get you out of the post-marathon depression (if any of you are still in it) is to schedule a future goal/race. No, it doesn’t have to be a marathon; it can be any distance race. But as pointed out earlier in the article, your mind needs time to process all of it, just like your body. Remember this next time you plan back-to-back races over the next year.