Runner's High we know. But Runner's Blue?...Huh?

People speak superfluously about the runner's high. Often to the neglect of what faces most behind closed doors: where in the dark recesses of the mind, a distraught runner faces the runner's blue in silence and solitude. Accompanied by little more than the consolation of finisher's Ts and medals. Mourning....

Is there such a thing as Runner's Blue? Well, is there such a thing as Yin and Yang?....

How do you know you have the Runner's Blue? Or more scientifically called Post Marathon Syndrome?

These are 6 symptoms and signs that may suggest so: (abstract taken from Runner's World)

1. Comparison shopping and minimizing your marathon accomplishment
2. Lacking interest in setting a new goal
3. Feeling of sadness, pessimism and worthlessness
4. Feeling lost without your training
5. Not able to see the light through the fog
6. Rounding your marathon time down: i.e. "I ran around 5 hours" despite an actual 5:55 finish

Don't be put off. You may identify with some of the tell tale signs but my intention is not to implore you to start labeling yourself as a "patient" and start looking up yellow pages, leave alone google for a clinical psychologist.

I think at some stages of our running life, most of us can identify with it. But the issue, is of course, how do we cope with it?

Interestingly, a perspective offered by the author in the article suggest that we should regard it as a space. A space or a lull to first of all, slow down. To heal and rejuvenate. To breath and relax. Cease from all activity, the rigor and demands of marathon training. Move into the winter seasons of marathon, so to speak, and chill!

As a runner, I do not regard the runner's blue as a state of "mental illness". To me, the approach is to see it as an opportunity for self discovery. To regain my perspective on running. Whenever I experience the runners' blue, I tend to retreat, find a personal space and introspectively explore the issues that bothered me.

There were several low points in my running life. If you want to put a name on it, retrospectively, I would say they were the runner's blue. Essentially, I think how a person copes with the disappointments has a lot to do with one's personality and background. Just because you are now a runner doesn't make you impervious to depressions or blues. On the other hand, if you are capable of taking a positive step towards running and training for a marathon in the first place, this may well be an indication that you are either a recovering depressive pessimist or a insanely manic optimist....You decide.

I wonder if runner's blue is as pathological as depression. Perhaps not. I have not heard of a runner committing suicide because he can't achieve his target marathon time. He may give up running though. And what transpires after that as he spirals downward to the abyss of despair, is any one's guess.

We are very complex beings. An intertwined mesh work of clustered thoughts, tangled ideals and unfulfilled aspirations. Incurably complicated. Almost impossible to unwind.....

But try to keep things as simple as possible. The idea of marathon running, to me, is to simplify, to resolve the complicated to a single channel of purpose. Our interpretation of it need not be overly sophisticated or philosophical. The rule is: Keep it Simple. Free the mind.

Coming back to my blues. There were two major trough moments in my running life which I would consider life changing. I won't go into the details. But suffice to say that two of the common issues that may trouble most runners is that of injuries and unmet goals...

Looking back, there is one conclusive consistency in these painful experiences. It would either make you, or break you. But the decision still lies with you. You ALONE, can make the choice to either allow it to make you stronger or to let it tear you to shreds. You decide.

Another fundamental 'law' is this: Work out what is right for you. Don't just follow blindly any advice that comes along. No matter how 'right' it may seem.

I would also add a point that may shock some: That decision may involve quiting. Sometimes, letting go is a brave decision too. Instead of applying a blanket "NEVER EVER QUIT" gungho across any case scenario, let's be careful to assess our own unique situation so that we are able to do what is best for us. Search your heart. Be true to yourself.

Runners, particularly endurance runners are a resilient lot. A breed of super tough individuals who stares fear in the eye without even flinching. But that is not me. I am human. I have many flaws. And when I am not out there running, I have many other life issues that I would need to conjure up the courage to face. And even attempt to overcome. Just like everyone else.

But, there is one thing that I have learned from my running experiences in the recent years. It is remarkably simple. Don't bite more than you can chew. Chew slowly. Enjoy it and swallow. Spit out if you have to, if it doesn't taste right. But in any case, try everything. Savour it and enjoy the full flavour.

Too simplistic?

What is your take on Runner's Blue? Feel free to share any of your experiences and how you deal with it.


  1. Hmm.. while I dread missing my runs especially in the middle of marathon training, I find that it's easy for me to get over it after the initial foul mood. The mood passes after an hour. I think this comes with having multiple priorities in life lke kids, work.... If one gets too worked up for such a long time from a missed run or poor performance, what's the meaning?

  2. Jamie, good point! Misplaced priorities is often the culprit. This is what I learned when I dealt with my own blues. You will finally see the bigger picture when the priorities are right.

  3. I'm with Jamie on this. There's too many external things to dwell on besides getting worked up for missing a run.

    I had totally misplaced priorities with running which led to injuries that lead to missing out on runs that led to getting the blues. It's just how I got my priorities right that finally got me away from bluesy feeling.

    Happy Feet

  4. Yes, indeed, Happy Feet. I have seen some great athletes going through this sort of thing. And it is not an easy thing to overcome. Therefore, I felt compelled to write this the hope that if it happens, at least we would know what to expect....


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