Beating The Post-Marathon Blues

The marathon is over. Now what? Photo: The Globe And Mail

Not Wanting To Rest After A Good Race

On the opposite end of the post-marathon blues spectrum, many runners confront the more veiled issue of wanting to parlay the rush and excitement of a new personal best into even faster personal bests. Worrying about what to do after a great race might seem like a trivial matter, but that’s exactly why it often causes the most grief for most marathoners.

Unfortunately, not resting enough after a big race or a long training segment is the mistake that ultimately leads to plateaus in training and stagnant race results. Not only does resting for 7-10 days have little negative impact on your current fitness, the long-term gains you will be able to make enable you to continue to make consistent progress, year after year, without overtraining.

What you can do after a good race:

1. Rest. You need it.

The body undergoes a tremendous amount of physical stress during a marathon. Skeletal muscle, muscle cells, and the immune system are all severely compromised.  Your body needs an extended period of rest to fully recover from and absorb the months of training you’ve put in, as well as the race itself. Failing to take the necessary down time to fully recover from a marathon training cycle will almost always ensure you hit a plateau in your training.

RELATED: Is Running 26.2 Miles Necessary Before A Marathon? 

2. Remember, 7-10 rest days won’t affect your fitness.

Recent studies show that there is little reduction in maximal oxygen uptake, or VO2max (1-3%), in the first 6-7 days following inactivity in well-trained runners. Furthermore, even after two weeks of not running, studies show that VO2 max decreases by only 6%. Your takeaway: a little rest now will not ruin your fitness, but it will enable you to train consistently.

3. Walk away when you’re ahead.

Finally, listen to your friends at Gamblers Anonymous and walk away when you’re ahead. Trying to prolong a productive training segment or a good string of races will almost always end badly, just like it does for gamblers who stay at the table too long after winning big. It’s not easy to walk away when you’re ahead, but it always pays off in the long run.

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