Whether you had a good or a bad experience in the marathon, firstly congratulations! Not many people are even fit enough to run a marathon, and it takes training and commitment just to get to the start line, let alone, running 26.2 miles to the finish! What takes a lot of people by surprise is feeling a bit deflated after it’s all over. This comes from being very tired, but also because you’ve lost a major focus in your life. Read on to discover what to do to get your body and mind back on track.
Rest & Recovery
Good or bad marathon, we all want to hang on to our hard-earned fitness. You’ve been used to running regularly, so resting seems strange. But unsurprisingly, muscles get damaged during the marathon. 7-10 days rest wont affect the fitness of a well-trained runner. In the week after a marathon, I like to do some gentle cross-training like walking, pilates, cycling and swimming – things that give you some exercise endorphins, but rest your body from the impact of running. It’s also a good time to keep stretching, using the foam roller and having massage to help your muscles recover. However your marathon went, don’t be tempted to do too much too soon as this can lead to overtraining and reaching a plateau or stagnating in training.
Many of us are goal-driven. We want Personal Bests (PBs) to show to ourselves and others that we trained hard to reach a new level. If you didn’t have the race you wanted on the day, think about what went wrong and how you could improve for next time. So if you had cramp – think through your nutrition and hydration; if you set out too fast – rethink your goal and pace in training. (For more tips on getting over a bad race, see here). Then make sure you act on these next time!
It’s helpful to have a bit of long term perspective: hopefully you enjoyed the overall training process and the achievement of feeling of getting fitter. Also one bad run doesn’t mean you wont run well in future.
Actions: next goal
You can get a great confidence boost by running a shorter race 4-6 weeks after the marathon. After this time you’re rested enough for a hard effort, but you’ve still got the marathon strength which can often lead to news PBs at shorter distances.
It often helps to try something completely different, to give yourself a physical and mental break from marathon training and running. Maybe you’d like to try a whole new sport, have a go at triathlon, or run on trails. After a marathon I always spend a few months mainly cycling. I can use the endurance I’ve built up from marathon training, but it’s different enough to rest my legs from impact, and give me another focus. If you do run, run ‘naked’ (that’s without a watch!!) and focus just on the scenery and why you enjoy running.
If you enjoyed training for the goal of a marathon, have a think about what goal you’d like to aim for next.
If you’d like to celebrate and remember your own marathon, or a friend’s, I’ve got cards and prints for marathon finishers, which can also be personalised. You may also like a card to thank your supporters.