The post marathon week; I thought those final miles along Brighton seafront were a tough test last Sunday, but this week has proved just as challenging in its own way. I admit as the days have gone on I have struggled both mentally and physically with the state I seem to have got my body into running this particular 26.2 miles, and added to this, those post marathon blues have also crept in.
Starting looking at the physical, my legs have been trashed by the Brighton Marathon; that is my new favourite word to describe them, as they honestly have been feeling horrendous. I think it was only Thursday that I was able to walk normally again and the pain in my quads from merely touching them had subsided. My quads have been the biggest issue; there are DOMs and then there is the pain I currently have. It feels like something is wrapped tightly around my muscles which means they are tight, the range of movement is compromised. and they just really hurt. My feet also seem to have taken a battering and my blistered toes have also caused issues when walking and trying to apply any form of pressure. Basically, I have done nothing to promote running a marathon to any of my non-running friends this week as they have watched me hobble around, attempt to lift myself in and out of chairs, or as the case was on Monday when I was coaching football – attempt to try bend down to tie children’s shoelaces!
Mentally as the week has gone on, I have got increasingly frustrated with how slow my body seems to be recovering. I am not unrealistic and expecting to be back racing around a few days after running a marathon, but usually the pain has gone and I can resume no pressure, easy running by this point. This week has also emphasised to me once again what a role running has in my life. I have been lost at times, waking up early and then remembering I can’t run yet, and lying in bed almost clueless as to what I should be doing. Getting home from work and not being able to go to any of my usual classes and having a void of an evening to suddenly fill – with what? This bank holiday weekend has also not been timed well for me. A few weeks ago, I was excited about the prospect of being able to enjoy a bank holiday after having the marathon already under my belt. Instead the sunny weather has made me want to run more than I have been able to and emphasised those voids in my life where miles would normally be.
I wrote before Brighton that across the past 16 weeks I had felt stronger as a person, able to focus my mind on training well, looking after myself better and generally being happier. I feel like in the space of a few days without my training focus this has already begun to unravel a little. I have obviously had to manage the week after a marathon many times before - it just feels a little different this time, maybe because the training and the focus beforehand meant a little bit more.
Amidst the challenges, this week has seen some running…
MONDAY – THURSDAY: Rest Days. There was actually no way I could have run – my Wednesday morning running friend text me on Tuesday seeing if I was up for an easy run, and heavy heartedly I had to admit that I still could not even walk to be able to join him.
FRIDAY: with Bank Holiday giving me a whole day off work I felt like I wanted to try some form of run. I decided to run to the gym for a Body Pump class and then home again after. The 2.5 miles I ran to the gym were horrid; the pain in my quads actually made me feel sick. I arrived at the gym feeling truly deflated at how useless my limbs were still, and when I stopped running it was almost like they had gone back to square one in terms of my quads being virtually immobile. A despondent Alice made it through Body Pump with squats that resembled nothing like what a squat should look like, and then shuffled 2 miles home after.
SATURDAY: I really didn’t know if my legs were up to parkrun, but the thought of missing it made me feel even more miserable. I went, but with absolutely no expectations of running well and just hoped it would be more enjoyable than yesterday. Thankfully Lincoln parkrun cheered me up, and I ran the 3 loops with a fellow member of my Strength and Conditioning for Runners class who had also ran Brighton Marathon. We chatted all the way round and the conversation took my mind off my quads – which did still hurt – finishing in around 24 or so minutes. It is amazing what some company and support can do to boost my spirits, as did the Easter chocolate I was given from a friend (Malteser bunnies of course!)
SUNDAY: should I have been running again today? Not sure really. But it was sunny, beautiful and I was also feeling very lost without having a Sunday long run to do. I actually am not sure what Sundays are supposed to be for anymore other than running! I told myself to try a 10k run, no more, and that I could always loop home if I needed to. At the start my legs hurt - needless to say by legs I mean quads. Without company or conversation to distract me this time, it wasn’t the most enjoyable opening few miles. I got used to the sensation in my legs after a while though and managed my 6.2 miles in a 8.42 min/mile average pace.
So not the easiest of weeks, but I know things can get better. By acknowledging and recognising the challenges I face it helps me personally (even writing it down gets it out my head!) but may also help others. After running the Berlin Marathon back in 2016 I felt so down and lost, but I kept it all to myself for weeks because I was not sure I should be feeling like that after something so great had happened, and 'only' about running. I realise now 'post marathon blues' can be quite common and I accept it is something I have to deal with. Dealing with my pesky quads is another matter, one hopefully that will be addressed next week!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...