Post-marathon ups and downs

Some unlucky runners are still waiting to receive their Dublin Marathon 2012 finisher’s medal. But the rest of us have achieved closure, moved on, call it what you want.

The post-marathon period can be a strange old time. Whether or not you’ve another race lined up immediately, it can be hard to motivate yourself to run again. Physically, of course, you may not have recovered fully yet, and so it may take time for your body and your running to return to normal.

Hopefully you have no post-marathon injury worries. This time last year, after the 2011 Dublin Marathon, I had knitting-needle stabs of discomfort in my right knee that required the no-nonsense intervention of my physio. But this year I feel fine, with no lasting ill-effects.

In fact, I wonder if I recovered too quickly for my own good. After a week off post-race, I was raring to go and scratching at the door to get out running again. Cue two weeks of barrelling around my five-mile route at race pace. Then last Saturday I had my first post-marathon long run: 12 miles along my usual Saturday morning route of forest roads, with stretches where I couldn’t hold myself back from running hard and fast.

And this week I’m feeling the effects of all that.

Tonight on my five-miler I could barely lift a leg and shuffled all the way round. Posture and form went out the window; you’d have thought I was ploughing through mile 25 as the clock neared 5 hours. I hadn’t an ounce of energy in my body or my mind.

So, I probably have a few weeks to go before I get the balance right again. And I should be mindful that I ran a marathon only a couple of weeks ago. The marathon is in three parts: the training, the race and the recovery. You can’t afford to be cavalier about any of them.

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6 Responses to Post-marathon ups and downs

  1. Congrats on the Marathon. Post marathon is a challenge. Even with a taper week or two before the marathon you are used to running a lot and eating a lot. All of a sudden you have lots of time on your hands, are always hungry and no goals to work towards.
    The week after my last marathon i felt terrible, even though I ran a half-decent race and had one heck of a story to tell. The endorphins that we get from running are addictive. I think the addiction makes us do things that maybe we shouldn’t, like try to ramp up our running when we should be letting our bodies repair themselves. Junkies and alcaholics do stupid things too.
    Each of us are different and at different stages of our lives and running. So, i don’t think any one formula will fit everyone. In general though it’s probably a good idea to not run much at all the first week or two and then build up slowly to your base miles over a few weeks.
    It sounds like you were following that routine but the long run got you. I feel your pain, I’ve done the same thing.

  2. Gareth Price says:

    The day after completing my first marathon, I started planning a training schedule for a 50-mile ultramarathon in February. I even bought an expensive head-torch for all of the night-runs I’d need to do. A week after the marathon, my first run ended in me hobbling home 6 miles short of my target. Two weeks later I decided that doing a ultramarathon wasn’t such a good idea and my body needed time to recover. Nothing prepared me for the subsequent shock of the loss of routine and endorphins. Felt a bit like getting off a roller coaster. Now I’ve started doing a bit of yoga and circuit training until I feel ready to get my trainers back on. Excited about a trail marathon in June, though!

    • Run and Jump says:

      With your new head torch, don’t be surprised if your local newspaper carries stories of UFO sightings by pensioners!

      I need to enter a springtime race too – I’m not doing the 2013 Paris Marathon. Perhaps I’ll look for a half in Ireland around Easter, then go for Dublin again in October. I really must do the London Marathon sometime, though!

  3. Ray says:

    On the other side, the post-marathon recovery period – when you can’t run fast – is a good time to learn how to run slow. Do that 5 mile route of yours 5 minutes slower and you’ll feel much better. Learn to control the effort level on your long runs and your recovery will be much faster.

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