Post-Marathon Depression

I need a new hobby…a new goal…something to get me out of this funk. I’ve spent the past year in training mode. First it was the Nike 10k in Chicago, then the half marathon in Champaign, then the All-Star game 5k, then the full marathon in Chicago. And now….there’s nothing.

I really thought that when I crossed the finish line of the Chicago marathon I would be elated, on top of the world even. Only 2% of the world’s population have crossed a similar finish line and I was one of them. Instead, I felt nothing. I felt disappointment. Granted, my marathon experience wasn’t what I wanted it to be but I still didn’t feel like I had accomplished anything.

I’ve diagnosed myself with post-marathon depression. Apparently it’s pretty common- at least that’s what my google search tells me. It’s just like Christmas… every year there’s a big build up and then it’s gone faster than you can blink an eye. I’ve been thinking about this marathon forever and now it’s gone and I don’t feel any different.

All the websites tell me that I need a new goal but where do you go from here? I guess I can try to run a faster half marathon or another full marathon but I just wonder if I’ll still feel the same way- empty.

There’s really no way to wrap this post up with a pretty little bow so I’m asking for suggestions. Has anyone felt like this? Anyone have any advice?

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7 Responses to Post-Marathon Depression

  1. julia says:

    oh yeah. I was majorly down after my first full. So what did I do? Sign up for a half in the spring and another full in the fall. It worked for me, I swear! 🙂

  2. Joe says:

    10/11/09 in Chicago was my first one, too, and I’m feeling the same way.

  3. Dari says:

    I ran my first full marathon on 10/25. It was an incredibly positive experience from start to finish. I loved it. I also have been really bluesy since that day. The first week wasn’t that bad because I had tweaked my knee during the run and I just couldn’t get out and run even if I had wanted. By day seven, though, I really felt like crap… rudderless, lacking direction, losing focus and gaining weight. I have had a horrendous headache and an infection since the race that has exacerbated my mindset and will be heading to the doctor today to see what he says. It’s day 15 and I’ve now missed five days of work. ugh.

    I hope you find relief.


  4. Angeliki says:

    Hey there!
    Well, I had my 1st Marathon on 8th November, here, in Athens, Greece. During the race I was feeling exhilarated, smiling at every spectator on the route, although I was having serious diarrhea problems I had to deal with! Eventually, I managed to cross the finish line, together with my good mood…!
    Since then, almost 2 weeks now, my mood is going from bad to worst… The only thing I do is go to work, which unfortunately is obligatory. When I go back home, I just sit on the sofa, eating chocolate mainly and watching tv. Every time I look at my finisher medal, I wonder how on earth did I manage to do that thing… I have completely forgotten my strong will and excellent stamina of those days.. it seems so distant!
    This morning I thought of the Google search machine and I came across numerous articles on the matter. Ok, it made me feel better and all thoughts like “Why do I feel like this, I was supposed to be happy and content after this…” seem less odd. Also, I’ve read all the reccommended actions I should take from now on, “Set new goals, Eat healthy, Go out with friends, etc” BUT what about if I don’t want to do any of these?
    I don’t know… it just looks so vain…

  5. Tan says:

    Thank you so much! I’m sitting here googling Post Marathon Depression thinking I will draw a blank and I have found that I’m not alone!
    I just did my first marathon – in New York of all places – I travelled halfway across the world to do it. It’was the most amazing day of my life – the best thing I have ever done – and now i am just a big empty hole with no motivation whatsoever!
    I also look at my photos and medal and wonder how I did that?
    I wonder if part of the issue is that in the lead up (and straight after) I was a ‘rockstar”. All my friends / colleagues would introduce me as ‘Tan, who is going to / has done the NY Marathon’. ‘Now I’m back to being ‘normal’and áveráge – which never used to bother me! I had a goal – I was totally focussed – I made sacrifices and it was brilliant … No one warned me of pending PMD …. if only I knew, could I have stopped it?

  6. BL says:

    I envy all of you guys for figuring this all out, and for being self-aware enough to research the existential void you found yourselves in.

    I just learned tonight of post-marathon depression. I only wish I had come across these articles earlier, but I’m not sure it would have made a difference.

    My Fiance ran her first marathon in Virginia Beach a little over 2 months ago. She came home, and everything changed. She was a different person, literally over night. I gave her space, figuring that it was merely physical exhaustion, not realizing that there might’ve been a psychological component to it. She just spiraled deeper and deeper into it, until she finally engaged in destructive enough behavior to push me away, and forced me to end the relationship. She couldn’t explain why she was acting the way she was, and neither could I.

    Obviously no two people react the same way to the blues. My only advice is that if you have a history of depression, to carefully monitor your moods and have a post-marathon plan, long before you take that first triumphant stride on the big day.

    This phenomenon really needs to get more exposure in the running community.

  7. Mr. Bitter says:


    I was hoping running a marathon would ease my depression.


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