26.2 miles is a long way on foot – heck it’s even a long way by car! – so running a marathon is always going to have an impact on the body. It’s one thing to race a 10k and go about your life normally, but there’s nothing quite like a marathon to take you (physically) from hero to zero. Here’s how the day after tends to go…
You get a special advance preview of old age
Waking up the morning after the marathon everything tends to feel fine…so long as you don’t move! Simply rolling over has been know to result in a weary muscle complaining, which means when you are finally forced out of bed (usually by the need to visit the toilet, the need to eat or the need to get ready for work) things can get pretty interesting. It’s at this point that you’ll find some scamp has messed with your legs overnight so they are now on backwards, your knees are reluctant to bend and your quads are a little disgruntled. Falling out of bed is a distinct possibility, and any forward movement will probably be a waddle. You might have run 26.2 miles the day before, but now reaching the kitchen for your morning coffee with have you out of breath!
Stairs are not your friend
You’ll be convinced that either your home/workplace now has more stairs than previously or that someone has inflated each step to a greater height overnight. Climbing stairs feels like an Everest ascent and going downstairs has you contemplating a stair lift! If you’re at home then I recommend crawling up the stairs, and either going down backwards or on your bottom. At work either avoid the stairs completely (this is the day to take the lift!) or suck it up and tough it out – wearing your medal or finishers’ T-shirt can help to explain your sudden inability to move normally and constant grimace.
Compression socks for the win!
For me, this is the one thing I have to do to make a difference. I run the marathon in compression calf sleeves, put compression tights on afterwards and sleep in compression socks or calf sleeves. As I began drafting this post I had gloriously pink compression socks on under my work trousers and was quite surprised none of my pupils commented on the flash of pink around my ankles! Studies may be inconclusive on compression gear, but it definitely helps hold me together and feel better – and if nothing else I feel like my legs are getting a gentle hug all day!
Simple tasks are harder than usual
Getting out of bed, getting dressed, getting from A to B…all things that should be pretty straightforward, right? But the day after a marathon you’ll not only fall out of bed but you might need help to get dressed (I was almost defeated by my compression socks this week!) and if you have to get anywhere then leaving a bit earlier is a must – old ladies with walking sticks will pass you, the bus stop at the end of the road will seem to be miles away and you REALLY don’t want to have to “run” for the train! And if you are unlucky enough to have to go to work, don’t expect the most productive of days (but on the plus side you can tell EVERYBODY how you spent the previous day!).
There isn’t enough food in the world!
You carb loaded diligently, topped up your energy with an array of gels and inhaled some sort of post-race meal (could have been a burger, could have been pizza, chances are you didn’t exactly savour it!) but there’s still a calorie deficit to address. This is the day that healthy eating takes a back seat – nobody ran 26.2 miles to eat a salad! Instead, your meal plan is more like:
- second breakfast
- morning snack
- second lunch
- afternoon snack
- evening snack
People will look on in awe as there never seems to be a moment when you’re not stuffing food into your face and seem to be putting away a frankly obscene amount. No promises you’ll be full, but it’s amusing seeing people’s faces as they observe feeding time!
And somewhere in all of that you start looking at your race photos and wondering when you might do it all again!
What are your post-marathon memories?