Yes, you read that title right.  I am a sufferer of the PMS.  I read a blog a few days ago by “Ask Coach Jenny” about the aftermath of running a long distance race, like the half marathon I ran a month ago.  I knew going into the race that there was a chance I would enter a stage of mild depression following the race…I’d read about it from experienced runners.  Even the most seasoned runners are not immune to it.  Long story short, as the sense of accomplishment and the “high” of race day fades away, a depression sets in.  The technical name is Post Marathon Syndrome…PMS for short…and I’m all up in it.

Six of the warning signs of PMS that the article listed include:

  • Comparison shopping and minimizing your marathon accomplishment
  • Lacking interest in setting a new goal
  • Feelings of sadness, pessimism, and worthlessness
  • Feeling lost without your training
  • Not able to see the light through the fog
  • Rounding your marathon time down–”I ran around 5 hours for a 5:55 finish”

I have cycled through all six of these symptoms several times in the last month.  Even as I write this, I’m living three of them right now.  It’s been a month since I ran the half marathon, and in the last 4 weeks, I have been lazy and unmotivated.  I’ve run only twice, two miles each time.  I can feel the pounds slowly creeping back on, which should be no surprise.  My level of activity has dropped considerably, while my eating habits haven’t changed.  I’ve been feeling lethargic and unmotivated.  Even though, I’ve registered for another half marathon…one that looks to be an exciting experience…I have not found the inner desire to get back to the training regime.

What I’m learning about PMS is that it’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Life has cycles.  God makes this clear in Ecclesiastes 3:

 1 There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Although I do not prefer this stage of my running life, I am learning that the PMS I’m in now is a time of learning for me.  There can be benefits to living in this cycle a for a little while.  It gives my body a chance to heal and rejuvenate, and it has allowed me to start gaining an awareness of the natural phases of a runner’s life and see it as an opportunity to run seasonally and make the most of the free time.  Today, I ran two hard miles on the treadmill, alternating one minute at a pace of 8.0 for two minutes at a 3.5 walk.  Prior to the run, I spent 20 minutes doing some strength training, focusing on my upper body, back and abs.  I’m learning that to improve my performance, I need to strengthen my core muscles, and to continue losing weight, I need to do more than just run.  For the first time in several weeks, I’m feeling less lethargic and drained of energy.  I know it’s because I got the workout in early today.

The past month has been busy in planning for the new Upward season, and certainly the next few months in the heart of the season will not be different.  It’s a good time for this cycle of life.  I can feel that as the date of my next half marathon starts to draw closer, I am starting to find little spurts of motivation…pockets of energy sandwiched between the lackadaisical times.  Hopefully, these pockets come more and more often and last longer than not in the coming months.  I agree with the author of the blog in her statement, “Ultimately, I believe PMS is the body asking for time to heal, and when you listen and invest in it, you run away with a renewed spirit to train again.”  I’m finding that renewed spirit, day by day.  In the meantime, I’ll learn from my PMS.