• Helen Phillips

Things FREE Training Plans Don’t Tell You #5:  After The Race

FREE marathon training plans are great. First up they’re FREE … don’t cost a penny, nadda, nothing, zip zippy zero! Second loads, maybe thousands of people have followed them, so you’re in good company. And third they’re often ‘celebrity, professional’ runner endorsed.

But following a FREE plan for your marathon training might not be best for you.

Most FREE training plans have been written for the ‘around 4 hours’ runner. If you’re new to running and the marathon distance, then these plans are probably not the best for you to follow.

If you’re a new runner, you need to build your running fitness and strength first, before launching yourself into a full on marathon plan. FREE plans make assumptions about your fitness and running experience which could leave you demotivated, demoralised and worst, injured, midway through the plan.

They don’t give you guidance and advice on how to make the plan fit your lifestyle. So when you succumb to sickness, have a few late nights out or you’re out for family fun days, lots of runners on FREE plans are stuck with what to do. You play catch up (cramming more runs into short weeks), skip weeks then struggle.

They give no support around some of the hardest parts of training for a marathon such as getting your diet right for running and fundraising for your charity place.

And they give you no advice and support around what to expect before, during and after your race.

Read on to learn about Things FREE Training Plans Don’t Tell You #5: After The Race

You’ve got the T-shirt, banana and bling. Met with friends and family who all think it’s fabulous that you’ve managed to finish the marathon. But some things just don’t feel right.

1. Chaffing

You’ve read about bleeding nipples and taken precautions, and also made sure you ran in kit you’d tested out before … but still you’re rubbed red and raw in places ‘the sun don’t shine’!

The first you know about it is when you ease yourself into a nice hot bath … and quickly jump out again it was ‘soooo painful’.

Yup folks, chaffing can hit you where you least expect it. Be prepared and lube up well!

2. You’re not in the mood for booze

This doesn’t hit everyone, but it’s unexpectedly hit me a few times. Yes really!

If you’ve gone without for a few weeks before the race, the thought of that first pint, glass of red or bottle of fizz will often see you through the final miles to the finish. So it’s surprising when you’re with friends in the pub after, that a pint ‘doesn’t’ hit home!

And what’s shocking is that this can last days!

Just go with it … ease yourself back to boozing gently allowing your body a well earned break from booze.

[For anyone who thinks it’s shocking that a nutrition coach makes such statements, please be aware that I coach ‘real people, in the real world’ and for most people I know, and most clients I work with, alcohol is a part of their social lives. Something to be enjoyed, like running!]

3. You can’t sleep

Marathon day you were up at 5. Couldn’t sleep from nervous energy, and anyhow you had a bit of a trek ahead to get to the race.

After the race, race night, you’re tired, so tired … you’re shattered … but still can’t sleep.

After the race your metabolism will be high and you’ll still have nervous excited adrenaline pumping through your body, and maybe you ate one too many caffeine gels en route.

Not being able to sleep race night (even if you’re so so so dog tired) is quite common.

Just relax, don’t stress and sleep will come. Accept that it might not be as deep and restorative as you’d expect and want that first night, but you can catch up over the next few days.

4. You don’t ever want to run again

This is so so so common. If you’ve had a tough race often the only thing going through your mind as you cross the finish is “never, ever again”.

If you’ve trained hard, it’s taken a lot of your time and meant you’ve somewhat neglected your friends and family, for a few weeks it’s important to reconnect, give running and fitness a back seat for a while.

What surprises some people is how long it takes to get back to wanting to workout.

Some folk are keen to get out asap. You’ll see posts the day after of “Just back from a 10k” #eyerolling. But ignore them. Give your body time to recover and repair. Give your mind time off from thinking about marathons. Give yourself the opportunity to reconnect with running!

If you want to run great. If you don’t that’s good too.

It can take some months to want to run again. Relax, accept it and if running is right for you, don’t force it, you’ll find your fitness mojo again.

5. You sign up for more

Crossing the finish line you swear never again … but sign up to the ballot or another marathon only days later.

Maybe you’ve a score to settle with your first (as many VLM18 runners have), you’ve learned so much first time around and now know how to train properly (as everyone was telling you but you ignored first time around!) or you just loved loved loved the atmosphere and experience of the race.

Why do you think VLM ballot (and pretty much every other race) opens the week after race day?

Go on … run another!

6. You can’t walk down stairs

You know you’re going to be tired, but expected going up to hurt more than going down!

Don’t be harsh on yourself. It’s pretty normal to take baby steps walking down stairs that first day (and going down on your bum is perfectly acceptable too).

You’ll also find that easing down to sit on the loo near impossible. That was the shocker for me, that I totally didn’t expect!

7. You can only do one thing at a time

This one lasts for about 24 hours.

I’m a serial multi-tasker, I can be doing 3 or 4 things at once or juggling multiple thoughts and ideas in my head at once.

After race day NOPE!

I lose track of where I am in conversations, even sentences! Walk into the kitchen (for coffee) only to walk out again empty handed a few minutes later.

Accept it. You will have burnt through your bodys carb stores running. And since your brain is a massive user of carbs it’s probably not getting the fuel it needs to power your thoughts.

Write lists and force yourself to do one thing at a time.

Multi-task-itis will return a day or so later. In fact when it does return you’ll be

so fired up you’ll be multi-multi-tasking through your day!

8. Feel washed out

I’m not talking feeling low energy tired I’m talking no energy tired.

I put this down to lack of iron (it’s the same tired I get day 1 of my period). So make sure you eat plenty of iron rich foods the day after your marathon (if I suggest you go out and eat liver after your race I’ll have no followers … so save it for Monday!)

You’ll have smashed up a ton of red blood cells pounding the pavements during your marathon, so need to eat iron rich foods to get fixed and your energy back up. But day 1, you’ll have to go with the flow as your body fixes itself.

9. Not hungry

What? I don’t believe you!

It happens! But it’s a surprise.

You’ve burnt through more calories than ever, so you’d expect to be ravenous, but you’re not.

It can take a few days for your appetite to return. It will return. Often a few days later with vengeance!

In the mean time make sure you’re eating plenty of good healthy foods. Carbs to replenish those burnt, protein to repair your muscles and antioxidant and iron rich foods too.

And when your appetite does return don’t go crazy. Try to get back to a normal eating routine. Your body will than you in the end.

10. Housework can wait

Sometimes before a marathon I go crazy. Cooking, cleaning and general tidying around, ‘nesting’.

But after the race I’m happy to live in squalor.

So my advice is to get the washing done, the shopping shopped and any chores complete before race day, so after you can rest, recover and relax.

11. You’re feeling low

This one’s so tough. For a few days after you’re feeling fabulous. You’re a marathoner … you’re on top of the world.

Then everything comes crashing down to earth.

It happens for me the Thursday after and lasts a few days. But for some people post marathon blues can last weeks.

It’s not about ‘not having anything to train for’ or your goals having been achieved, it’s more ‘brain chemical’ than that.

If you do feel down and don’t get back up within a few days, talk to someone. It’s not as uncommon as you might think.

12. You won’t take your T-shirt off!

You wear it to the office (with your bling), out running and pretty much everywhere you can get a “did you run … “ comment.

Flaunt it with pride!

One day your T will need washing … but in the mean time exploit the kudos!

13. You’re invincible

Yes you are! You’ve ran a marathon.

If running and fitness was never your thing, then completing your first, and any next marathons, is a big big thing.

You’ve moved mountains in your body, your life and your mind to master your marathon and that achievement can show up in other aspects of your life as well.

Prepare yourself to be awesome everywhere. Don’t take shit. Go on and achieve.

You’re a marathoner. Be proud. Go on … get out there!



If you're running a marathon anytime soon check out Marathon Club Hub. My online group coaching programme for new runners. A plan plus all the guidance and support you'll need to get trained, ready and prepared to run your first marathon.

Click HERE to find out more!