It’s quite a niche mental health problem, all things considered, but Post-Marathon Blues syndrome exists. At least, it is a thing in my small circle. I suppose it could be applied to any big event, for which you’ve trained, rehearsed, prepared over a long period.
With marathons, the training period is usually 16 weeks, for fun runners like me. So for those weeks you try to maintain a schedule, keep alcohol consumption down, sleep levels up. You run in all weathers, during dark winter mornings before the rest of the city was up. It’s always on your mind, this marathon thing.
Then afterwards, life feels a little empty for many marathoners, even if you’ve run the best race of your life and you’re sitting smugly on your PB, as I was last year.
This year, though, for me, the training and preparation did not help. I think I woke up on the morning of 24 April and knew I would not run the time I had in mind (3:37).
Brace yourself for the excuses. My ongoing ear problem had become dizziness and a slight issue with balance, although I did not fall over during the race. I did frequently feel lightheaded (I have since been diagnosed with a perforated eardrum and referred for treatment).
I suffered with cramp from mile 16 and worst of all I find to my horror that I was actually panting even when I tried to stick to my slowest allowable pace (8.35 min/miles), so the plan to work up to my fastest possible pace (8.10m/m) was dead in the water from the half marathon stage.
I struggled through, it was not pretty, but I managed 3:49.03, which, at least, is Good For Age for over 40s (and as a 53 year old, I can be pleased with that).
My Good For Age rating still gives me a place in the London Marathon for 2017, for which I should be duly grateful. I am.
So, recovery. It is much more important for runners of the senior variety, so I have been limiting running to a non-pressured parkrun with friends and taking my usually Run Club classes, plus my duties as a PT. I have been sitting on my arse a lot.
As luck would have it I have a half marathon on Sunday, one of my favourites, the always lively Hackney Half (bad recovery planning, but I had a media place) and an Assembly League 5km with my club tonight, which I predict I will run very slowly, whether I plan to or not.
Then I will go to give blood, and take some weeks out from running before I try to sort out this dispiriting dip in form. While I do that, I will research and make a plan.
No need to feel blue. I am still Marathon Gran. I am still Good For Age, but I need to take some life lessons from those senior women like Angela Copson (3:24 Manchester Marathon 2016 and first in her age category, which is V65.
Now there’s your role model.