What’s Next? Physical and Mental Recovery after a Marathon

constantly challenge yourself

“Be proud but never satisfied.”

I still can’t believe that it’s over.  It has been a week since the Boston Marathon and my legs are finally feeling normal again.  I have obviously been in recovery this week, which means no running.  The first few days I was ok with the break, but being the running addict that I am, I had the urge to run by day four. I do have to say that for the first three or four days my legs and my entire mid-section were really sore.  It’s hard because at the same time that your body needs rest, too much sitting still isn’t good either.  (Not that I ever seem to get much of a chance to sit still!) Two of my friends got to witness this when we had lunch two days after the marathon.  After sitting with them at a much needed lunch for a solid hour, I could barely walk to the car! I made it out to the parking lot and my hip literally locked up. We were hysterically laughing standing right in the middle of traffic.  With one of them on either side of me, my friend yelled……”We’re fine! She just ran the Boston Marathon!”  We laughed all the way as I hobbled to the car.

There are millions of articles on marathon recovery.  You will find some that will tell you to take 26 days off, a day for each mile.  You will read others that have you running again in a week.  I think the most important thing is to listen to your body.  It is important though to remember that just because your muscle soreness is gone, that doesn’t mean your body has repaired all of the damage and breakdown that the marathon brought about.  The best thing I did was that two or three days after the race, I went on a walk for close to an hour.  It was an easy walk just to get my legs moving.  The soreness was dramatically better after that.  This past Saturday I did jog a very slow three miles and cross trained at the gym, then rested again Sunday.  I hope to ease back into a normal schedule this week, but will pay extra attention to any aches and pains.  The worst thing to do is to dive in to quick and cause injury.

Favorite Nike Dri-FIT tank

So now let’s talk about the mental aftermath post marathon.  I was honestly expecting to be a little unmotivated after this marathon (possibly even a little depressed). I mean it was the pinnacle of my running career so what would my next goal be?  It’s like the post-holiday blues. You look forward to something for so long and then it’s just over. All three of the times I qualified for Boston in the past, I ended up struggling for motivation after. I had met my goal, yet the Boston Marathon was usually a year away from my qualifying race.  I am so goal oriented when it comes to my running, I can’t last more than a month without having a race to train for.  Right now I am very eager to register for another marathon. I guess the silver lining of not running your best time is that it leaves you with the motivation to do better.  I believe in always challenging yourself. My goal right now is to qualify for Boston again, go back, and do better.  I want to continue to improve my best times for my half and full marathons. I was going to wait and aim for Boston in two years, but I am just not so sure I can wait! (Stay tuned, I am hoping to decide on a race in the next month.)

Two things I know are on my schedule are the Franklin Half Marathon on June 7th and the RC Cola and MoonPie 10 Mile Run on June 21st.  If you haven’t done the MoonPie Race in Bell Buckle, I highly recommend it. There really isn’t another race like it!  It is hot, but manageable, especially with my very favorite dry fit Nike tank!  I cannot have enough of them for the hot and humid summer months.

I was definitely sad to not participate in the Country Music Marathon this year (although it was really hot and I am not a fan of the sun), I love Nashville and I think it’s a great race.  Less than a week between marathons is a bit much though.  Summer months are very hard training months for runners so signing up for some local races really is a great way to stay on track!

Persistent and Consistent

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