Fitness Friday: Curing the Post Marathon Blues by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah


In June 2015, I ran my very first half marathon: The Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon. It was a grueling and eye-opening training cycle. It was an equally exhilarating race. I mean Katherine "261 Fearless" Switzer hugged me just after I crossed the finish line. I even signed up for the 2016 race before our tire tracks faded in Canada.

I was so proud of myself for running 13.1 miles and I was ready for more. Except I wasn't. I worked out hardcore for about two weeks and then I came down with a case of the post-half marathon blues. I was in a funk. It was bad y'all. And no matter how I tried to be active, whether running or at the gym, fitness eluded me. My eating went to the dumps. It didn't help that my work as a chaplain ramped all the way up and my once crawling Baby Girl started to toddle. I stayed in that slump until the Trenton Half Marathon and 10k race at the end of October. Almost five loooooonnnggg months. If the Trenton 10k wasn't my official Black Girls Run Runniversary and my favorite race (at the time), I might still be in that slump. 


Fast forward to today. Without being keenly aware of it, I caught the post-marathon blues. The symptoms are almost exactly the same. I signed up for the 2018 Philadelphia Marathon laying in my hotel room in Philly with somewhat sore muscles. I worked out hard following the marathon. When I should have been recovering, I was at a Soca Twerkout class with my medal on three days after run/walk/crawling 26,2 miles. Who does that? Seriously? Anyway, I logged miles and strength trained until it hit me. Fatigue. Exhaustion. Burnout. Keep in mind, even as my activity slowed down to nothing, I was still eating as if I was logging 20 plus miles a week. Plus, mommy and wife guilt set in. I have been overcompensating with cleaning and cooking for my negligence during my training cycle.My Instant Pot has been putting in werk! Now four months later I recognize that I have a case of the post-marathon blues. 

If the months of lack of exercise and eating didn't clue me in, what did it? I had been trying here and there to get myself back on the pavement consistently, or at least back in the gym. I even blogged about it. But I knew I was in bad shape—pun intended—when my hair became an excuse for not working out.


If you have known me for more than three months, you know that I thrive on changing my hair. It's what I do. It's what I've done since wielding my first curling iron in fourth grade. So, for 2018, I got a new hairdo, an undercut. My sides are shaved, but the stylist left the length on top for me to play with. And real talk, I love my hair! The cut is here to stay in 2018 and may even be my thing for the foreseeable future. This weekend I discovered a roller set that had my curls poppin'! Anyway, on this past Sunday night, as I prepared for Monday, I took out  my workout clothes. When I woke up Monday morning, I slipped into my workout clothes as planned, but decided I wasn't going to the gym. Why, you ask? My curls were still poppin' and my hair was FIERCE! And because my satin pillowcase is the truth, my hair was fierce all week (and I didn't work out all week).

 Really Donna? I can see Monday, but you didn't workout ALL week because of your hair?  You haven’t used your hair as an excuse for health and fitness for at least twelve years. That's so 2006 of you, girl!

And this, my friends, was enough to open my eyes to what was going on. So I reviewed my symptoms: No exercise. Poor nutrition. Bloating. Tiredness. Winded after everyday activities. Weight gain. Irritability. Not training for an upcoming race in April. 

Diagnosis: Post-Marathon Blues

Prognosis: Treatable


The good news is that just as I overcame the post-half marathon blues and went on to run more 5k, 10k, half marathons and my first full marathon, I will overcome this slump! I don't have a rigid treatment plan, but I have started my road back to 26.2 by increasing my water intake, getting more sleep, and making up my mind to get my body moving again. And since the hair was the clue that I had a problem, it is the first symptom I've actively addressed. Earlier today I got my hair braided (I love it!!!!) so that styling my hair after a workout so its presentable (ok, beautiful) for work is not an issue. I look forward to sharing my workouts with you next Fitness Friday!

So, dear readers, have you ever been in a fitness funk or experienced the fitness blues? How have you overcome those moments? Let's talk. Comment below.