After the Marathon
Right after you finish running, do the following:
After crossing the line and turning in either the stub on your race number, your index card, or computer chip (each marathon has its own finish-line record-keeping system), the first thing you need to do is to get something to drink and eat.
Determine whether you need to visit the medical tent. Blisters and excessive pain in muscles and joints should be checked out by the medical personnel on hand.
Within a few minutes of finishing, grab something to eat and again drink.
Stretch thoroughly within 20 minutes of finishing.
Do not even consider lying down: Keep walking.
Sign up for a post-race massage (if available).
After you return home or to your hotel, have a nice lunch. This should be a well-balanced meal that includes the majority of calories in carbohydrates. Don't overlook consuming at least 25 percent of total calories from protein sources.
Do not take a nap or lie down for long periods of time (that is, unless you wish to be very sore or nauseous). Instead, stay on your feet by taking a walk or perhaps going for an easy bike ride of a few miles. Above all, keep moving to minimize leg muscle soreness.
Later that afternoon or evening, go out and celebrate. If you trained properly and followed all of the pre-race and marathon strategies, you should be able to do just about anything you wish (including dancing!). Above all, have a great time.
The marathon is a mystical event because so many factors come into play in determining how well you do and how much discomfort you will experience. With the marathon behind you, it's now time to think about practices you did correctly along with errors you may have made in your training and racing. Following are evaluation questions to consider in assessing your total marathon experience, both training for and participating in the race. If necessary, modify and adjust your program to address these issues the next time you train for a marathon.
It's important to reflect upon what you might have done better or differently if you had had the chance. If you have any desire to run another marathon (which many runners do), you'll want to make the next one easier and more successful than the one you've just completed.
Marathon Report Card Checklist
You should review your overall experience by considering the following: Did you train smart and make it to the starting line healthy and injury-free? Did you avoid injury throughout your training, enabling you to complete most of your scheduled workouts? Did you listen to your body and make minor adjustments to your training schedule, thus becoming stronger and not worn down?
Think also about how your training contributed to your marathon performance. Did you train consistently? Did you complete most of the training runs (even the 18- to 23-milers)?
Evaluate your race strategy. Did you eat and drink properly before, during, and after the marathon (and the long training runs)? Did you run at the correct pace for your present ability and conditioning level during the marathon (and the long training runs)? Did you make adjustments for unforeseen problems (for example, blisters, chafing, stomach discomfort, muscle cramps) during the marathon (and the long training runs)?
Finally, think about your mental approach to the marathon. Did you have the best possible psychological attitude during the marathon (and throughout your training)? Were your marathon goals realistic?
Staying Motivated and Combating Burnout
It is not uncommon for runners to experience varying degrees of post-event depression (the blahs, decreased motivation, etc.) after finishing a marathon. This is due in part to achieving a goal that took a lot of time and energy. Now that you have accomplished the goal, you might feel a void in your life.
Until you are ready both mentally and physically to set new goals, consider the following strategies to deal with reduced motivation and/or burnout: Run simply for fun, not worrying about following a training schedule; supplement your running by participating in cross-training activities; take a break from running altogether; spend more time with family and friends, and enjoy more social activities or nonathletic hobbies.