A blog by runners. For runners.

So you’ve run a marathon, now what?

goal-marathon-now-whatIf you’ve just raced a fall marathon, congrats! Most fall marathons, including the biggies Chicago, Marine Corps, and New York, are behind us which leaves many finishers wondering, “now what?”

First, relax and recover. Running a marathon is very hard on the body. It’s crucial that you heal before you run fast or race again. Everyone recovers differently, but in general, experts say you should take one easy day for every mile you raced. So, after a marathon, it will take close to 4 weeks to fully recover. If you run hard again too soon, you could set yourself up for injury.

Next, think about your race performance.

If you met your goal…

  • What to do right away: Take this time to celebrate and be happy with your performance!
  • What to do within the first couple of weeks: Review your training and note what went right. Was the addition of speedwork your golden ticket? Was a new approach to fueling a recipe for success? Make sure you file away everything that went well so you know to take a similar approach next time.
  • What to do about future races: Now that you met your goal, your likely thinking about how much faster you can run the next marathon. And if you’re eager to cover 26.2 miles again in the spring, then go for it.

But remember, it’s more than OK to let your new PR stand for a while. If marathon training took up too much of your time or was hard on your body, consider focusing on shorter distances for a while – go for a new half marathon or 5k PR in the spring. Or if you loved marathon training but have a few under your belt, you may be up for a new challenge. Try training for an ultra marathon, give trail running a go, or consider a triathlon.

If you missed your goal…

  • What to do right away: Celebrate anyway! Finishing a marathon, no matter how slow, is no easy feat. Remember most people can’t even run a mile, and you just covered 26.2 of them. High fives to you!
  • What to do within the first couple of weeks: Go over your training and jot down what went right and what didn’t. If you only missed your goal time by a few minutes, try not to be too hard on yourself. Chances are, your training was spot on but some other factors got in the way of your goal time – like the weather and difficult course profile. If you missed your goal time by a lot, think about why. Was your goal unrealistic? Did you train too hard or not hard enough? Did your fueling go awry and you bonked?
  • What to do about future races: For those who are eager to race again, it’s OK to give the marathon another go if there’s a race coming up in the next couple of months (after you’ve fully recovered). However, don’t expect a drastically different performance. Better yet, treat yourself to an off season. Gather your thoughts and determine if and when you’ll really be ready to run a marathon again. Maybe you need to take the time to let a nagging injury heal. Perhaps you’d benefit from working with a running coach – he or she can help you determine realistic race goals and create a personalized plan for success.

Did you race a fall marathon? If so, brag away below!

Written by Jen Matz //Photo by Susan Torres