You did it! You ran your first marathon! The big 26.2!
Maybe you hit your time goal and set a new PR. Or, maybe you didn’t even have a time goal and were just in it to get a new sticker for your windshield.
Either way, we’re happy for you!
But… now what?
Depending on your personality type, it may be tempting to veg out on the couch, riding out the winter months on a steady diet of eggnog and snickerdoodles.
Or perhaps you’ve been hyper-focused on marathon prep for so long that you’re just not sure where to direct that energy or what to do with your newfound free time.
Well, we’ve compiled some tips to help you keep your energy up and maintain a sense of purpose now that you’ve checked another big-ticket item off your bucket list.
1. Rest and recover
First off, you earned it! But also, it’s important for your health. In the days following the race, drinks lots of water, get lots of sleep, and take a day or two off from intense exercise.
Once you get back on your feet, go on a few recovery runs-- that is, “low and slow,” running just fast enough to get your blood pumping. You don’t want to quit all physical activity cold turkey, but you also don’t want to overdo it. Recovery runs are a good way to stay active and work out any lingering soreness without straining your joints and muscles.
2. Maintain good nutrition habits
As you surely know by now, when training for a marathon, it’s crucial to eat a sufficient number of calories and proper nutrients to fuel you during your workouts and recover afterwards.
But now that your exercise patterns have (likely) changed quite a bit, you should adjust calorie and nutrient intake according to your physical activity level. In other words, if you got in the habit of eating a whole box of spaghetti every morning before running 10 miles, it’s probably time to find a new breakfast food.
3. Try out some other forms of exercise
It may sound weird, but there’s a whole other world of physical fitness out there! To stay active and avoid burnout, make the most of the early mornings you spent running last month by trying different activities. From hiking and swimming to jump rope and weightlifting, the world is your oyster!
And once you inevitably return to running (which we all know is the best sport), you’ll find that cross-training with other types of exercise will actually improve your overall performance.
After you’ve enjoyed some much needed rest and played around with some new activities, it’s good to look back on your marathon and think about what you learned-- and what you want for the future. Were you satisfied with your performance? What went wrong and what went well?
Don’t just think about your time and pacing. Think about your preparation, your attitude, and your mindset during the race. And make sure you take some time to be proud of yourself!
5. Set a new goal
Whew, all that introspection was exhausting.
Let’s move on and think about what comes next. Are you hooked on distance running? If so, maybe you should run another one and set a faster time goal.
Or perhaps you should run even farther, and start training for an ultramarathon-- which is a whopping 31 miles long.
Whether your goal is to train for another race, continue to run a certain number of days out of the week, or simply try another new and exciting thing every month, use the confidence and knowledge you gained on your marathon journey to fuel you along the way.