Don’t think for a second we don’t still have marathons on the brain here at Salty Running! On Sunday, Clove and her husband are busy prepping to host a sold-out crowd at the Columbus Marathon, including our very own Vanilla who will be racing the half! And then two weeks later Sassafras will toe the line for her big sub-4 attempt at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Indeed, Detroit, Marine Corps, New York City, Philadelphia, Richmond and California International are just a few of the many big races yet to take place this fall.
It’s been a week and a half since I crossed the finish line of the Chicago Marathon, my 14th marathon. I have to say, a great race or a bad one, there’s nothing like crossing that line and putting all that hard work behind us!
We train for months and months for our our goal marathon. But what starts happening to us at that moment we cross the finish line?
You may be surprised.
So today we offer some tips for what to expect after your goal marathon is over.
The result. You have been focusing on your goal throughout your training cycle and during the entire race. Now, the result is raw, real and over. Did you nail it? Did you just fall short? Did you crash and burn? You may be surprised how strongly you feel about it. You will likely be absolutely ecstatic or seriously devastated. Don’t be surprised by tears no matter what the result.
[pullquote] But no worries – this is an acute pain only a tiny percentage of the world ever experiences so enjoy it![/pullquote]
The legs. Particularly if you raced it and you are just stopping for the first time in a few hours, um, it hurts. Holy cow, it actually really, really hurts. Your legs didn’t hurt when you were running, but walking is pure torture after running 26.2 hard. Keep moving as active recovery is important. It is probably going to really hurt for 2 days following the marathon. Don’t expect to feel like you did after your 20 mile training run if your race pace was significantly faster. But no worries – this is an acute pain only a tiny percentage of the world ever experiences so enjoy it!
The lungs. Your chest and ribs may really hurt too. You may take a deep breath and feel like your lungs are bruised. It’s okay, they’ve just been working overtime, but it can kind of freak you out if you aren’t expecting it.
The feet. Are you blistered? Use more BodyGlide next time. Hurty toenail? That bad boy is probably going to turn black and fall off. A few days after the race, use a sterilized needle and drain the blister under the nail. It will relieve the pressure (and fully freak your kids/spouse out – the entertainment value in that is quite great). Next season reevaluate your shoe choices and make sure to tell the salesperson at the running store about the blisters or black toenails to hopefully avoid these problems in your next race.
The food. You’ll be inundated with water, Gatorade, power bars, bananas, bagels, cookies, beer right after you cross the line. Take in some sports drink and food (I prefer a banana and something with carbs). Start replenishing your body ASAP. After you have some nutrition (and only after that), start sipping on that beer.
The hug. Hopefully you have some friends and family meeting you at the finish. You’ll be so happy to see them and so glad they were there for you with your journey – no matter what the result. There may be more tears here.
The letdown. Many people feel a bit let down or depressed in the days and weeks post race EVEN if you had a great race. The truth is, you’ve been focusing so hard on this race for months – BUT now what?! Don’t worry about it. Take some time to recover, reflect on your race, and then pick a new goal. A new focus can cure (or even divert) any post-race blues.
The lessons. You’ll go over your race and training in your head and you’ll likely be thinking about the next one before too long. You know you can improve and you have some ideas. Harness this energy in a positive way. I encourage you to write a race report. If you decide to do this again, you WILL want to remember the finer details.
The recovery. Now is the time to recover. Take a week off, take a month off if you want. You need some down time before you start training again.
The sleep. This is my favorite part! Since you aren’t getting up early to run or fitting in late evening runs, you have more time. Get some ZZZs and enjoy your down time.