I've been on the down-trend for the past year.
Long story short, running has become less and less fun for me, and time before more and more sparse.
As I was ramping down (down, down) my weekly mileage, I started wondering what would happen. Would I grow a "spare tire," struggle to pick up a 15-pounder, or huff and puff at the slightest jog?
I find it laughable each time I'd visit the doctor, when the nurse would do a little intake interview, asking me about my fitness habits. It used to be, "Oh, I work out 6-ish days per week, an hour at a time." Then, it became, "About 5-6 days a week, 45 minutes to an hour." Most recently, it was, "Five days a week, 40 minutes." Luckily, the system still flagged me as "active," but in my eyes, I know better.
Over the past few months, most mornings would involve a 3.7-ish mile jog, though some mornings I'd do a 30-40 (tops!) minute workout video instead. Physique 57, Xtend Barre, and 6 Week 6 Pack were most frequent, because more intense stuff like Insanity or Focus T25 are off-limits until we figure out a house-friendly solution to the jumping. Some days, I'd just "sleep in" (6 AM versus something in the 5's). Sometimes, several days would pass before I'd work out, or I'd count light yard work as a workout just to feel less lazy.
Of course, because I still have some races on the calendar, we've been running longer distances on the weekends. For a month, we did no long runs, so we had to back-track when starting up again, and I'll be going into my next marathon under-trained. I've done worse running-wise, but I think I was more fit overall, though.
So what has the effect been? In short, not much. Overall my weight has been more under control. Granted, I know some is muscle weight, but my appetite is so much more controlled than before. Recently, I did a long run and ate a large amount of food for days afterward, food I did not "need" calorie-wise, but I couldn't help it. Outside of this, there is more of a natural stopping point these days, and in return, I've gravitated toward a place that I'm fine with -- losing more would mean cutting out food and working out more, which is stressful (and who needs that?!), so no.
Yes, I run more slowly now. I was never that fast to begin with, and I'm not trying to break any PRs now. My hilly stomping grounds, on the other hand, have helped me run more evenly on inclines and declines. Yet I get sore from squats and lunges these days, ha ha! In general, my legs are less stocky, yet firm. I spend a lot of the day standing, walking in heels, walking from place-to-place, and that's a workout in itself. Oh, and I haven't had to deal with a running injury in forever, which means I am always ready to go.
Strength-wise, I don't lift heavy anymore. I still do push-ups and other weight-bearing exercises, but I am content with my 5-pounders in barre and sometimes my 15-pound kettlebell. My upper body is naturally broad and bulky (like The Hulk, but not buff), so maybe this is for the best; I'm still as strong as I need to be.
In short, there IS a life after running, I assure you, and it doesn't involve eating bon-bons on the couch or whatever. I think a lot of people take up long-distance running because they think it will result in weight-loss and that not running a ton will lead to ballooning, but I don't think that's the case for everyone. Another percentage of people keep running because they feel it has become critical part of their identity. I still struggle with this sometimes, but so far, it is fleeting.