Congratulations, you have achieved what less than 1% of the world’s population have achieved; you have run a marathon! No matter if you nailed a Personal Best or slogged your way around the course, nobody can take away the fact that you are officially a marathoner!
Why do we sometimes feel deflated after a marathon? For many, it is due to the fact that we have been very focused on the race for months and months, and it now leaves a hole in our schedule. A major target is now gone and we can sometimes feel at a loss of what to do next!
Runners tend to have addictive personalities, and we enjoy the routine of training and logging the miles. But it is very important to enjoy the recovery period after a marathon and to allow your body to heal. Even if we don’t feel injured, we all incur micro-tears in our leg muscles when we run long distances. Short slow runs will help to heal those (by increasing the blood flow in our body), but similarly rest and recovery is important too. A 3-week period is recommended, where you don’t do too much hard running.
Saying that, very often we can run a great ‘back up’ race within one month of the marathon, as our bodies still have the fitness and endurance from the 42km training, so it can be a good idea to put in a 21km or a 10km race if you are the type that can’t’ sit still! You may find you perform better in this race than your first race.
REVIEW YOUR TRAINING AND RACE PERFORMANCE
Don’t forget to thoroughly analyse your race performance. Hopefully you kept a log of your training, or at least have a copy of the training plan that you were following. If yes, then it is easy to get somebody to look at this with you to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of your race preparation. If no, then make sure you do next time! Tracking our running training is a vital tool for improving our performance and learning from our training. It is a science, but much of it is common sense.
If you are happy with your 42km performance then you don’t need to worry too much about the above step, but if you feel that you could have done better, then you need to figure out why so that you can improve for next time around!
SET YOUR NEXT GOAL
Has anybody ever said “Never again” when they crossed the finish line?! Yeah ok, we’ve all said that, but in reality that feeling doesn’t last too long and most of us are pretty quickly signing up for our next race!
After a marathon, it is a great time to put in a block of speed training and to target a shorter distance. Our bodies respond well to faster training after an endurance event, and it is also fun to shake up the training with more interesting workouts involving faster running.
So just because you want to achieve a faster Personal Best in your next 42km, it doesn’t always mean that the way to do that is to make your next race another 42km.
Following a structured training plan is not for everybody, but there is no doubt that adding proven structure to your running training will maximise your chances of success and minimise the likelihood of injury. Don’t leave it to chance!
CONSIDER JOINING A RUNNING GROUP
Running can be lonely, and training for a marathon can be repetitive. Share the pain with other like-minded people and learn from other runners who are faster and more experienced. Running groups also offer the chance to do speed workouts in a group environment, where inevitably you will push yourself harder. And you will hopefully learn new workouts that will help you improve your running and mix up your training.
CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS
Last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy your achievement… after all, you are in the top 1% of the world at something now, and that is not always easy to do!!!
By Jeffrey Ross, Co-Director of The Running Plan
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