According to a study recently released in Britain, nearly sixty percent of all those who complete a first marathon never compete in an endurance event again. Nearly forty percent stop running altogether. The number rises to just over seventy percent upon completion of a second marathon.
When I first read these statistics, I was a little taken aback. But, now that I've had a chance to think about them a bit, I think I understand.
After accomplishing a marathon goal, it is hard to get back to the kind of training and sacrifice necessary to do it again. And at the same time, after doing something as monumental as a marathon, almost anything and everything else almost seems unworthy of serious attention. Such thinking is of course terribly debilitating and paralyzingly deceptive.
Runners have long noted the effects of the "post-marathon blues." But, there is an aspect of marathon recovery that makes getting back into any kind of serious training regimen terribly difficult even after the "blues" have long disappeared.
It is just hard to get going again. It is difficult to recast the mind, will, and emotions for another goal, another season, another race. That must be why so many people, even after all the grueling effort that goes into preparing for and then actually doing a marathon, just quit.
This week, I have run every morning and almost every night. And it has been a struggle every time to drag my sorry self out there. I have had a hard time adjusting to a summertime schedule. I have had a hard time adjusting to summertime temperatures. But most of all, I have had a hard time adjusting to a summertime mindset. So, it has been a matter of sheer will and determination to pound the pavement.
I'm doing about six miles a day. Physically, that is not a challenge at all--especially given how slow and easy I am taking it. But, the mental part is a huge challenge.
In less than two weeks I will be participating in one of the most difficult--and yet one of the most enjoyable--races of the year: the Moon Pie-RC Coal 10-Miler. I think that as a warm-up I may try to do the Cool Country 5-Miler this Saturday. What I am hoping is that these two very tangible and imminent goals will help me overcome whatever it is that is making my mental--and thus ultimately, my physical--return to a serious training regimen so terribly difficult.