I’ve loved writing about training for marathons (oh yeah… plural! That technically makes me an expert now) and writing about what happens when you run them. So it was about time that I wrote about what happens afterwards. This is just based on my own personal experiences and everyone is aware that I’m odd, but it’s always fun to share….
Be prepared in the days (and weeks) following a marathon, to wish to eat everything in sight. Twice. And then have pudding. It’s probably acceptable to “refeed” for the first few days and carbs, fiber and protein are the way to do that sensibly. Plenty of vegetables, water, pasta and chicken, right? Wrong. Bring on the donner meat, biscuits, cake and copious tea because “behold. I have just run a marathon. Bring to me cake and shower me with pasta and praise”.
And that’s ok. What probably is not ok is still maintaining that dietary approach 4 weeks later. My trousers definitely suggest that I need to quit the biscuits and start being sensible again.
The Medal Wearing
Thou shalt sport thy finishers medal for a minimum of 3 days and then carry it in your handbag for when you bump into people in Tesco and want to brandish it at them. “Hi yes my handbag is awfy heavy because of this enormous bit of bling”.
Remember that the only people allowed to wear your medal are you and children under the age of 10. Anyone else is an impostor and a fraud with no concept of what you’ve actually just been through and they must be attacked immediately if found wearing your medal. If they ask to wear it, just politely question them to see if they too have just completed a marathon. If the answer is anything other than “yes look at my finishers t shirt and this kebab I am enjoying it is my third today because I have just run a marathon” then punch them in the face and hobble away. (Don’t run. you probably can’t.)
The Finishers T-shirt Wearing
Largely acceptable for a week. I WISH I worked somewhere where finishers t shirts were an acceptable form of office attire. But alas. Never mind. I shall wear it immediately upon arriving home and at every available public opportunity. It is especially important that once you are able (and willing) to run again after the event, that you wear your finishers t shirt with pride and a grimace as your body makes you suffer for wanting to run again after 26.2 miles.
Try not to wear your marathon finishers tee to do a 10k. Or any race of a lesser distance. It’s a bit ‘boasty’. Especially if, like me, you’re not quick or you don’t, like me, possess terribly enviable form. I quite enjoy that EMF gave me two t shirts. One with 26.2 emblazoned on the back in GIANT LETTERS THAT CAN BE READ FROM MILES AWAY, and one which just states “2014” leaving fellow runners to guess which distance I completed that weekend. I’ve been tempted to wear my Aberfeldy 70.3 shirt a few times but no. That one doesn’t get worn for training. That one just gets worn for smugness.
(I will be a nightmare if I ever become an Ironman)
The night after a marathon, your brain and legs will be buzzing. Everything will tell you to PLEASE OH MY WORD PLEASE GO TO SLEEP and then just as you close your eyes you’ll remember A Thing or your calves with spontaneously go into spasm and then before you know it you’re on facebook and it’s 4am.
I actually find that two nights after the event is when I have The Giant Sleep. A sleep so deep that an elephant could fart in my ear and I wouldn’t even flinch.
Reliving the Event
This is the great bit and it doesn’t go away! To say “I’ve run a marathon” is a bloody brilliant thing. To say “I’ve actually run TWO marathons” is even more incredible. But to be able to say you’ve run the LONDON marathon is something I doubt I’ll ever get my head around. Your eyes will glaze over as your brain skillfully blocks out the portaloos, the sounds of shuffling feet and exhaustion, the sweaty strangers hand from a high five, the smell of deep heat and nervous fart and the pain (oh my god the PAIN) of covering 26.2 miles. You will say “it was wonderful” and recount tales of cheering crowds and landmarks (If you’re doing Edinburgh now, there are none. Not a single one. sorry. They demolished THE ONLY LANDMARK. Rubbish).
The Forgetting of The Pain
I imagine that this is a similar chemical reaction to what happens after a birth. The brain makes you forget what actually just happened. So you go online and you sign up for next years race before you can even bend down to tie your own shoe laces.
The glory of crossing the line, getting free stuff and generally basking in your own amazingness never gets old. Enjoy this. You deserve it!
Obsessively Checking for Finishers Pics
And then hating almost every single one because your thighs look shit. Seriously, camera men. I know you have hunners of folk to snap but at least try to make them flattering. (I actually doubt there is such a thing as a flattering photo anywhere during a marathon…) I managed to select a tiny number from 41 images where my thighs didn’t look like they were trying to peel themselves off my body and crawl away…
The Immune System’s Revenge
Steer clear of anyone you know who is remotely poorly after a marathon. In fact, turn your house into a germ-free bubble and refuse to leave for anything except more food. Because, when you least expect it, you will wake up with a HORRIBLE AILMENT that will strike you down for MUCH longer than you’re used to. My tonsils became incredibly disgusting within 8 days of London. And I was sick for nearly two weeks. Antibiotics and ALL the vitamins did virtually nothing until my body chilled the hell out and decided to be fine again.
Your body has been through a lot. Months of training and preparing for this and then the immediate drop in adrenaline leave you susceptible to all sorts of nasty shit. Feel free to punch anyone who sneezes in your vicinity. But make sure you wear sterile gloves while you punch them.
Whether it’s to new-and-not-stinky kit, new-and-not-stinky trainers, a holiday or some time off. Make sure you take some time to enjoy your achievement for yourself. Look after your body. And allow yourself time to recover before you throw yourself into the next challenge.
And welcome to the club!