You did it. The race is over. Whether you did the half- or the full-marathon, I hope you have a great feeling of accomplishment. You have achieved your goal! However, for some runners once the big race is done, they feel a bit lost. They’ve spent months training for the big day and now it’s over. Sometimes, this feeling catches them by surprise, but it’s perfectly normal.
In the days immediately after the race, you’ll probably want to take a few days off and recover or do what I like to call, “active rest.” Go for a brisk walk. Take a bike ride. If you have any aches or pains that don’t go away after a few days of rest, ice, Tylenol and Advil, make certain to have them checked out with your physician or a sports medicine specialist. It’s also a good time now to have any chronic aches or pains that plagued you through your training and race day checked out and see if you need any further treatment.
The best way to deal with the post-race blues is to keep moving. You don’t have to keep to your training regimen and long runs, but it’s important to keep exercising. You have a great and healthy habit so keep it up. Find a new goal, whether it’s a half- or full-marathon next spring or just doing your best in one of the many 10ks that are popular and plentiful in the area. Keep in mind there are a number of Turkey Trots in a couple of months. If you’re tired of running, maybe you want to try something new like a triathlon. By setting a new goal and celebrating your achievement, you’ll feel much better.
And don’t forget to celebrate. You finished a major race! It may not have been the time you wanted, or maybe you set a personal record. But you dedicated time, effort, and sweat to this goal and you accomplished it. You deserve to be proud!
Once your body is physically healed from the race, put your running shoes back on and hit the road again. If you’re unsure of how much you should be running, think about your tapering routine and how much you ran then – a mix of 30- and 40-minute runs – until you have a new goal in mind, such as another race or doing the Fox Cities Marathon again next year, but finishing with a better time. Then, you can begin working towards that. Don’t forget to cross-train, such as using the elliptical, riding a bike or swimming. Now is the time do some strength training to build up your muscle’s strength and endurance. This can also help to reduce any injuries for future events. The goal is to make your body stronger, healthier and keep it that way.
Congratulations again on your achievement and don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishment.
Dr. Mark Westfall is an emergency physician at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah and ThedaCare Medical Center-New London and the EMS Director for Gold Cross Ambulance Service. He is an avid runner and has completed over 20 half marathons and several marathons including the Chicago Marathon, Disney Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon.