Sunday, April 27, 2014

Post Marathon Funk (PMF)

LOTS of this since the Boston Marathon
Post Marathon Funk: Otherwise known as Post Marathon Blues or Postpartum Marathon Blues.  A state of blah that occurs after training for and completing a marathon.  This usually comes after 16 to 24 weeks of focused training, goal setting, and looking forward to this one day that may or may not go according to plan.  During Post Marathon Funk (PMF), a runner might exhibit some or all of the following symptoms and behavior:

  • Feel tired and apathetic about daily activities.  
  • Mope around the house not knowing quite what to do with themselves.  
  • Feel the need to have another immediate goal to work towards even though they are perfectly aware that they should rest and enjoy the lull that comes after accomplishing something they worked hard for. 
  • Spend more time than they care to admit googling upcoming races where they could possibly race better than their most recent marathon and still use their recent training despite the fact that it wouldn't be good for them.    
  • Eat ice cream and other various treats in higher amounts than usual.  Comfort foods.  
  • Cry for no reason other than because they feel like it.  
  • Irrational thinking.
  • Avoiding PMF at all costs by signing up for as many races as they can so that there is no time for that floundering feeling that comes from being between goals.  
Yes, I'm pretty sure I'm in a state of PMF.  Gosh, what a real thing!  And it comes after even our best of races.  I don't think it's that we always HAVE to have something to be working towards but the mind of the marathon runner is definitely one that thrives off of having a goal of some sort. A goal or training that adds to their life in all other ways.  They thrive off having some kind of challenge...a focus...something that drives them and adds to their life.  

When we work at something for so many weeks and focus on one specific race, there is bound to be some sort of empty feeling when that focus is gone.  Similar to that somewhat sad feeling many of us women get after having our babies.  At least I experienced some sort of blues after each of my children were born.  Yes, I had these perfectly sweet and healthy babies to hold close and enjoy.  But there was always a process of blues that I needed to work through after birth.  I'd spent 9 months preparing for their births, focusing on that one day of labor, and carrying this life in my body.  And once pregnancy and birth were done, I had to shift my focus to something new.  This took a little bit of time for me.  And although very different things, I find that I feel similar feelings after a goal race like a marathon.  No matter what my time was or whether I met my goals. Yes, I have that sense of accomplishment in finishing a 26.2 mile race.  Yes, I ran a decent race.  But it's done. After all these weeks of training.  And even though my main focus has been on JOY and enjoying the process of this training cycle, missing my goal/what I think I was trained for is understandably disappointing.  That only adds to the PMF.  Even those that set a personal record in their race experience PMF.  Their PMF is sometimes stronger since they are coming off an even bigger high! 

So much is gained from training for something.  So so much!  There are innumerable lessons to learn about ourselves, life, and the limitless possibilities that are out there for us when we are ready to receive them.  The marathon is a race like no other.  Unpredictable.  Challenging.  Something that makes us stronger, wiser, and more capable and prepared for future challenges.  It takes time to process and soak it up after it is all over.  This is true for any marathon but Boston 2014 was most definitely not like any marathon I've run before.  It was an experience that was so much more than a race.  Lots of emotion being there this year.  The crowds and support were amazing.  The city was alive with LOVE, hope, healing, courage, pride, resilience, and gratitude!  The spectators were loud, strong and alive like I've never seen them.  Never before have I had so many people thanking me for running.  Never before have I felt so much community and strength pulsing through the marathon course...it was electric.  My only regret was not soaking it up more.  Instead I think I was a little too focused on my paces and trying to stay in my zone. But that's just it, no matter what, it was impossible to not take in the life force and energy that was BOSTON STRONG!  It was beautiful and I am incredibly honored to have been there running this year.  

What a joy and honor to be doing Boston with this special friend!  I even got to ride the bus with her.  True inspiration here.  Love her!

THIS is so much better than a PR!  A 3:28 this year. Not a PR but it's my best Boston time! I'll get that PR...I have time.  


So, here I am.  Almost a week out from Boston 2014 and I'm definitely ready to shake this Funk!  I'm ready to set my sights ahead and on the right now.  I'm ready to fully embrace and process all that Boston was and all that I learned from my training and race experience.  And yes, I'm ready to set some new goals.  Maybe that will involve some future races and maybe not.  But my goals will certainly involve finding focus on the next few months of my life as we gear up for some big changes and new chapters that will come with moving back to Oregon!  I'm ready.  

Things to help shake the PMF:
  • Allowing yourself the time to just rest your body and mind.
  • Being ok without a goal for a short time.  
  • Focusing on and enjoying the things that you didn't get as much of during training.
  • Thinking of some possible new goals to get excited about.  Not because we need them but because these new goals are part of what makes us us.  They are part of what gives our life energy and strength.  Our goals are what allow us to make ordinary extraordinary!  
  • Go on some happy runs that bring you back to yourself and help you remember just what a GIFT running is!!  
  • Be Thankful.  Focus on gratitude. 
  • Write down all the things you did really well during this training cycle and your recent race!  Then write down the lessons you learned and what you can apply to the next training cycle.  
  • A Runninghood follower on Facebook reminded me of just how important it is to have a group of friends...a support group...that really understand this post race funk.  Sometimes, it's the support of these friends that make all the difference in the world!!  I know this has been such a wonderful thing for me.  Thankful for my running friends that truly "get it".  
Today's run was definitely needed.  Soul food!  Happy.  A PMF shake out.  

Do you get the Post Marathon Funk?  What do you do to shake it?  



Amanda

19 comments:

  1. This made me laugh A! Should we add this diagnoses to the DSM-V? LOL! You don't look like you are in a funk in that last picture, with legs up to your throat and gorgeous smile:) But yes, I have experienced the PMF, especially after my first marathon when I took a week off of exercise. Enjoy the beautiful weather and stay within yourself with you goals - lots going on for you this summer and pretty soon you will be crazy busy sorting through decisions and making huge life changes:) XO

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    1. I do think we need to add this to the DSM-V!! Yes! ha ha. That run brought me out of the funk. And a few encouraging words. I'm good now. Thanks friend! So many possibilities on the horizon. xo

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  2. I remember having PMF so bad that I didn't run for an entire year after I ran Boston!!! I forced myself to run a half a few months after and then I just stopped...I was so disappointed in my time that it consumed me. I did get pregnant with our first and after having her I fell hard for running again and haven't stopped since. I needed this post back then to help me out!!

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  3. Hi Nancy! Yes, it is such a real thing. Glad you're running again!

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  4. Great post! I ran Boston last week and can 100% relate, although I guess I'm the type to attempts to bypass the whole sadness thing by signing up for new races and throwing myself into new projects. Hell I even started my blog during the taper in anticipation of the PMF! Focusing on new goals is fun but I know I probably should give myself time to breathe a little.

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    1. Hi Michelle. Good to hear from you. Yes, keeping busy and giving ourselves new goals is surely helpful. Taking time to reflect is always important for me too in order to move on. Sounds like you're doing great with the onward and upward mentality! Excited to check out your blog.

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  5. I had PMF after my first marathon. I think I missed all those stupidly long runs and having a purpose for my training. It didn't happen after the second but I'm pretty sure that was because I was dealing with a husband and his bad back. I was ferrying him to appointments and having to do all his usual chores on top of my own so I didn't have the time to even think.

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    1. Yes, distractions are good! I'm finding myself snap out of the funk quickly for this reason...lots of things to focus on as we get ready to move again!

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  6. Such a great post, Amanda! I've come to expect that post race blues, especially after a big race... and at this point, my family knows to expect it too, ha! Hope you feel like yourself asap!

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    1. Thanks Laura! Yes, I definitely expect them now. But they still always seem to catch me off guard at first. Already feeling like myself again.

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  7. Great job on your race.
    I don't have any tips or help on the PMF but I'm glad you had a good run today!

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    1. Thanks Kim. The PMF seems to have faded! :)

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  8. Finally finding some time to sit down here after I read this this morning!!! So good to read an Amanda post:)

    I am currently combining PMF with PMS which may or may not equal one nasty MFB at times....ha!

    Yes, such a real thing! I honestly didn't experience it too much in my first fall marathon as my goal was qualifying for Boston and running it the following spring. Almost as if the 2 marathon training cycles were combined into one big goal. After Boston that year however, I really struggled. I ran a great race there but felt almost empty in a sense.....total PMF.....One of the highest highs I had felt in life crossing that Boston finish line in 2010 and then it was all over.....I ended up pushing too hard without recovering properly....ended up out of the game for months.

    "Avoiding PMF at all costs by signing up for as many races as they can so that there is no time for that floundering feeling that comes from being between goals." This made me laugh because really I was ON it when I got home. Register register register. Pre-Boston-"I will not run a fall marathon". Post Boston-"I will absolutely run a fall marathon-maybe 5 of them" Because I really want this PMF feeling again.......ha!

    You ran a great race! So special for me to be there with you and ride the buses with you! Just to experience such a special year! YES, how many people thanked the marathoners for running this year? SO many! I've never been thanked so many times, even on the course!!! Electric!

    On that note-off to run my first happy run!!! I wish I was running it on that beautiful trail in your pic!!! That's a gorgeous pic by the way. Should be on the cover of a running magazine! XO

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    1. Ah PMF and PMS. Brutal. Same with PMS and Pre Marathon Syndrome...the taper tantrums. Horrible combo!!! You make me laugh with all your registrations but I love seeing you so fired up!! So glad to experience this year with you too! Thanks for you!

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  9. Oh PMF is the worst! It's almost as bad as PMS! And for me, rest, slow runs with the kids, and CROSS TRAINING totally do it for me. Oh yeah and race registrations :) Rest up Mama! You deserve it.

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    1. Yes, Almost as bad. But PMS in my 30's is definitely worse than PMF! ha! Cross Training today did it for me too. Heal fast you!

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  10. Not having a race goal can feel like we have no sense of purpose. I've gone into a funk after every big race and that was new to me since I didn't do big races until I was in my forties.

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  11. It's totally real and I think you nailed it on the head for how it feels and great ways to deal with it. We runners (and human beings for that matter) need a goal and purpose and without it we feel lost. Races provide the necessary tension to spur us on toward better times, healthier bodies and so much more.

    One thing I try to remember post race is to enjoy the moment. If we live focused too much on the future (or the past) we fail to embrace what is right in front of us in the here and now. Training schedules, calendars and all that are great, but we have to remember enjoy the process. The actual race is just one piece of a much larger picture.

    I'm preaching to myself right now as I'm struggling a bit not having a race on the calendar due to injury. It's killing me not being able to run more than a couple miles at a time and struggle through PT. I want to be my "normal" self again, but I'm trying to remind myself how blessed I am regardless and that there is much to be enjoyed and learned in all situations.

    Thanks for your post. I enjoyed it!

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  12. You ran such a good race. Every marathon is unique so you can only do so much planning.
    As for avoiding the PMF, I sign up for two marathons per season. I try to think of one as my key race and the other a training/fun run. Come marathon day, if it's not my day, not feeling it, I'll switch the focus and just count my blessings that my body will take me over 26.2 miles, no matter what the pace. You run competitively so well, Amanda. Be pleased with every race and learn from each one.

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