London, Berlin, Chicago… Many runners have been toeing the start line of marathons lately and if you managed to get in one of these famous races, you’re lucky as it is not an easy task. Whether you managed to receive a medal for 26.2 miles or any other race, you might be wondering: what do I do now? What can I do after closing a chapter giving a rhythm, objective, and goal for the last few months (or year)?
Here are a few tips our Enertor team applies after a race:
After completing a race, it may be easy to move on to the next big goal straight away. But before thinking about any other medal to add to the rack, don’t forget to celebrate your achievement! While your loved ones might do so for a couple of days before moving on to their reality, it is understandable if you need more time to process it.
Running 26.2 miles alone is no small deal! Did you know that 1.1 million runners complete a marathon each year, which equals roughly 0.01% of the world’s population (according to IIRM – International Institute for Race Medicine)? While diversity is improving, only 30% of marathon runners are women. Running a marathon is a noticeable achievement – even if elite or keen amateurs make it look like a casual hobby.
So, organise a marathon celebration, give yourself some well-deserved kudos, go for social runs with your friends (which you might have skipped due to training), have a treat, and get your loved ones excited about your results too! You deserve it.
Write down your experience
If you’re planning to race again, this is a must – and although it might not seem useful now, you’ll probably eventually thank yourself for doing so. No matter if your marathon was an enjoyable experience or an endless struggle, there is no doubt you might have learned a lot from a training and race diary. As there is no certainty on the result because the body and sports are not a formula, some lessons can always be learnt: efficient nutrition, regular or lack of hydration, empowering mantra, overambitious or realistic pacing strategy…
While it might seem all very clear in your mind, writing it all down might help you either completely rebuild a new race strategy next time or keep your existing habits. Here are some questions you can ask yourself writing down a detailed race report:
- Is there any change you would make to race training, taper, and build-up?
- How did you feel km per km? Were there kilometers or sections where you struggled most – and if so, which ones?
- What kit, gels/food and electrolytes did you use? Are you happy with all your choices?
- Was your pace consistent throughout the race and with the plan you had in mind?
- Did you get injured during the race or struggle with cramps, food poisoning, or any other symptom?
- If you had to do one thing differently, what would it be?
- Did you achieve your target, and most importantly: did you have fun?
- What kept you going when it got difficult to race? Did you use a specific mantra? Did you have supporters on the course?
- How did you feel when you crossed the finish line?
- Is there any tip you wish you had known ahead of the race?
Now you’ve got your race report you can easily act on it. For example:
- Didn’t have energy the morning of the race? Manage your stress better the week of the race, and make sure to improve your sleep pre-race
- Felt bloated or nauseous due to a gel/snack? Try out other types of fuel and next time, get familiar ahead of the race with the aid station’s food to avoid surprises
- Got slower and slower every km? Start a bit more gently to be able to push more in the second half of the race
- Felt on top of the world at the finish line? Embrace this memory, this will be your fire to prep for your next race!
Take care of your body….
We all know it: running impacts your body; so running a marathon is no exception, even if you’re well-trained. On the days after your marathon, it might be easy to drop the ball – training has ended and so has the race after all! But if you’re looking to step another time on a start line or even come back to leisure runs, you should take extra care of your body. Massage your legs to activate circulation and improve recovery, eat a colorful and delicious plate to refuel correctly (even if heading to fast food might be tempting), drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep per night. Many runners might also go for a quick recovery run or a walk after the marathon to alleviate any lingering pain and get moving.
… and of your mind!
Have you heard of the post-marathon blues? Many marathon runners talk about the post-race endorphins and the runner’s high, but post-marathon blues should also be addressed. It isn’t clinically defined; however, many finishers might feel sad or a little upset after completing a race. While it might seem confusing considering the situation, it is a very valid feeling and might be tough to work through.
There are two sides to this. Firstly, if you committed to a training plan or had a routine during the lead-up to the event, it is not uncommon to wonder what comes next, rebuild a whole different routine and habits, and move forward with no short-term goal.
It is also important to note that on race day, your hormones might also be peaking. Your body produced and used a lot of energy, adrenaline, and endorphins; but your level of hormones won’t stay at peak. Eventually, after your body understands the effort required has been delivered, it will automatically regulate itself to its usual functions.
This sudden changes in hormones might also heighten your emotions.
To avoid this, it is recommended to follow a recovery plan or set yourself other goals you’d like to achieve. It could be running a smaller distance or trying out a different sport, but it doesn’t have to be related to sports. If you’ve spent the last 6 months working on your goal, you can now maybe spend more time with family, request this promotion you’ve always wanted… Find your own! Also make sure to give yourself time to psychologically process your experience, running a marathon is not an easy task, so patience and self-care should be in order.
Find another exciting goal
Did you love running a marathon or a race (of any kind)? Why not plan your next objective? You can try to PB your 5k, 10k, or half-marathon time; compete in another marathon, race in another country as part of some holidays, or try out triathlon, trail running, or any other sport.
Who knows, it might just be the beginning, you do you!