Marathon done…what happens next?

§ April 14th, 2014 § Filed under News Comments Off on Marathon done…what happens next?

Well done on such a great achievement!  Running a marathon takes guts, determination and a serious amount of training if you are going to do well.  It has been a massive focus for you for months, maybe years.  It is perhaps easy to forget about what happens after it, but a sensible approach to this period is important, in some ways that we might not expect.

Suffering the blues?…

You have been training hard for the big event and have built yourself up physically and mentally for it.  You have crossed the line and rightly feel elated.  This high will probably last a few days, even as the aches and pains are subsiding. However, after most highs there comes a low.  Be ready for this.  It’s just part of the process.  Have a chat with a friend, a training partner or a coach about it.  You might find that talking with another runner who has been through it before will help.  It’s ok to admit that you are feeling a bit down mentally after the high that you have experienced.  Progressively putting other things in place (see below) will also help you to get over this.

‘Enjoy’ not being at your best for a few weeks…

“The soreness in my legs and back went after 3 days.  I set a Personal Best time at the marathon. Why is my running rubbish two weeks later?!”.  The immediate soreness in muscles having completed a marathon will probably go away in a few days for most people (if it doesn’t you may be injured and should seek advice from a physio or doctor).  However, there will be a residual heaviness in the legs and lack of energy for a few weeks. This won’t be obvious and may come along when you aren’t expecting it and trying to get back in to your running, but something is holding you back.  Don’t expect to be at your best for around 4 weeks after a marathon.  If you push too hard in these 4 weeks and expect too much then you invite injuries and will set recovery from the marathon back. Give yourself a chance to recover. You may have improved your speed in training for the big day by doing interval training on the track, or hill repetitions for example.  You have probably improved your long distance endurance with some long slow training runs.  It would be a mistake to go back to all of this a week after the big day, trying to force yourself out of the lethargy that you might be suffering.  Try to enjoy having to take a step back for a while.  Try something different (gentle cycle ride as the weather gets nicer, or a gentle walk out in the sunshine for example) that will help prevent you from dwelling on how poor your running seems to be.  By all means do a handful of short, slow runs in the first three or four weeks, but don’t try to push hard and ‘improve’ your fitness at this stage or try to get it back to where it was on marathon day.  When you are ready, build your running back up slowly and then start to think about other goals and targets.

Nutrition…

A few treats?…Allow yourself a few indulgences that you might have cut out in training for the big event.  Not had a crispy crème doughnut (one of my occasional cheats!) or a curry night for example for a couple of months?  Enjoy that second glass of wine instead of holding back.  However, decide when this period is going to end.  Don’t let it become a habit that drags on for weeks and develops in to a new routine.  A few naughty treats will make you feel less deprived when you take your training and eating seriously again and make it easier to commit to a healthy and positive plan when the time comes.

Protein for recovery…You have completed a marathon and your body has come under a great deal of stress.  Your muscles will be suffering and torn to bits.  As well as good rest, they also need the right nutrients to help them get back to full strength and ready to support you in progressing to full fitness and beyond when the time is right. Muscles are made of protein and if protein isn’t present in sufficient amounts in your diet, then you won’t recover effectively.  The best way to absorb protein from food is to eat a steady supply of it.  So, no protein all day and over-compensating in the evening by eating a 16oz steak isn’t the best approach.  Having protein at every meal and snack is ideal.  Eggs, lean meat and fish and pulses are great.  Snacking on nuts (unsalted) and seeds is excellent.  There is also protein in dairy, but be careful of too much saturated fat in cheeses for example.

What carbohydrates are right for recovery?…In the few days before the marathon and also ahead of long training runs you probably ate more carbohydrate in the way of pasta and baked potatoes for example.  These will have given you the energy to keep going.  However, now that you are burning less fuel, you don’t need the same amount of these carbohydrates which are very rich in calories.  If you do carry on with the same intake you are likely to gain weight.  Refocus on eating more green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage etc.), red/orange/yellow peppers and green
salad leaves for example.  These foods will provide you with better vitamins for recovery and will help your immune system, which is also likely to be low for a while after the marathon.  Indeed, suffering from cold or flu-like symptoms is common after a marathon…another reason to back off in your training.  Vitamin-rich vegetables and fruit will be important at this time.

New Targets…

How many people finish a marathon and either say “Right! Let’s sign up for the next one!” or, “I hated that.  Never Again!”.  In this situation emotionally driven statements are normal, but they may not be the most appropriate.  Remember Steve Redgrave winning a gold medal in rowing and then saying “Anybody who sees me in a boat has my permission to shoot me”?  If you do sign up for the next marathon that day, then don’t make it too soon, unless you aren’t interested in putting in a good performance but just ticking off another marathon.  How about taking some time to rest and recover, reflect on the experience and then put new plans in place?  Steve Redgrave did this and then won gold again four years later.

Contact me…

If you would like to discuss the next few weeks and months after your marathon experience and perhaps discuss making plans for what happens next, then please feel free to contact me.

Email: eddie@bigdealtraining.com                           Mobile: +447920094555

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