Kelly the Culinarian: Training Tuesday: Post-Marathon Thoughts, Tips and Takeaways

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Training Tuesday: Post-Marathon Thoughts, Tips and Takeaways

It's been more than a week since I finished my first marathon. I've been putting off writing this post for a while because it's all so overwhelming. The best analogy I can muster is that running a marathon is a lot like planning a wedding: you spend months preparing, obsessing about every detail and trying to ensure perfection. Then, it's over in the flash of an eye and you feel like you missed half of the stuff you thought we be important to you.

Like the signs or the spectators. Jenny's kids made me this awesome sign and screamed their heads off, but I didn't see them at all. I planned to jump at the finish line for a photo, but just couldn't get it together.

So in not particular order, here are a few thoughts I've had about the experience since it all wrapped up.
  • Runner use a training plan, create a race day plan, but don't think that much about a recovery plan. Let me tell you, when you need help getting out of bed to get to the bathroom at 2 a.m., you'll start to contemplate what you need to do to get back to normal. If you're running the Chicago Marathon, start thinking now what you need to do with your nutrition and activity in the first hour, first 24 hours and first 48 hours to recover.
  • Not the marathon tattoos I had in mind
  • Battle wounds - I've got them.  My heart rate monitor nearly sliced me in half (I look like I've had surgery) and my arm band left a nice little chafe mark. I also have a slightly less photograph-able wound on my hip from where my fuel was in my pocket and other associated chafing that has healed up without scarring. Imagine how bad it would be if I wore something new ... 
  • MacKenna cheering me on
  • At some point during the marathon, you will doubt your own sanity. You will contemplate why you ever signed up for this. No one is chasing you. No one is making you do this. But remember, you trained for this. No one can run it for you. And eventually, it will hurt more to stop than to keep going. Write your inspiration on your arm, if you have to, to remind you why you're doing this.
  • Very few people will be as excited as you are for the marathon. I had the most awesome-ever cheerleading squad, but 95 percent of people don't understand the sacrifice, determination and sheer will required to train for and complete a marathon. They also won't understand the unbridled joy of finishing it, or the sadness you'll feel when it's all over. Don't take it personally. It doesn't deter from the accomplishment of cover 26.2 miles.
  • Bling bling
  • In the same token, for the sanity of the people around you, you might want to check how many times you start a sentence with "During the marathon ..."
  • Celebrate and commemorate. While the only thing that sounded good to me in the hours after the marathon was pizza and frozen yogurt, the hours after the marathon are truly the best time to have a really nice meal or a party or something to bask in your glory. Finisher's medal required, of course. I also put my shiny new 26.2 sticker on my car.  I don't care if this makes me pretentious, I'm damn proud of myself.
  • Post-marathon depression is very real.  Shalane Flanagan wrote about this very phenomena recently. You'll be tired, sore and bloated, and realize that what you trained for for months is over with. It can be a little blue, but this too shall pass.
  • To fend off the blues, savor your accomplishment and start thinking about what's next. I had an awesome race with my dad, and I'm looking forward to a ladies weekend with a bunch of Chicago Running Bloggers at Zooma Great Lakes.
  • Next time I do this (and there will be a next time), I plan to focus more on nutrition, both during the training cycle and on the run.  I thought I had my running nutrition together, but I felt bloated and heavy in the final five to eight miles.
  • Another thing I need more help on is mental toughness. I thought I was hardcore, but I turned into a crying mess by the end.


Kayla said...

Great post Kelly!!! Can't wait for ZOOMA! :)

Losing Lindy said...

I have a scar from my chaffing from last year's half.

Erin said...

All very excellent points! I'm always amazed at people who do one marathon and then never again. There are so many things you learn doing your first one that you can apply to your second one. And third one. And so on.

Kim said...

I think the mental game is the hardest. I am not sure if I will ever figure it out!

I get that under the arm chafing in the summer from my tanks! It is the WORST!!!!

Can't wait for ZOOMA!!! And our hills! I ran hills last night and thought of you... :)

Kelly @ Running Kellometers said...

This is such a great post! There is so much that happens in the later miles that you can't plan for no matter how hard you try. And that 26.2 sticker doesn't make you pretentious. You're now part of a club that no one can ever take away from you. You're a marathoner!!!!! :)