By Danny Dreyer
Author of Chi Marathon
Ah, the moment of completion! Crossing the finish line of a marathon (or half marathon) distance event is a symbol not only of running the event, but of the months of training, and possibly years, of getting out there and making running a regular part of your life. It’s time to celebrate your success and take time to recover from your event.
During your celebration, put taking care of your body at top of the list. Get some carbs and good protein into your body within 30 minutes of the event. Chocolate milk has gotten a good reputation for a quick way to get nutrients into your body, but the higher quality carbs and proteins, the better. There are other great post-workout drinks on the market to get nourishment into your body within that 30-minute time frame. A turkey sandwich is another great option. Later on, a good meal with lots of veggies and some protein will support a positive recovery.
Listen intently to your body’s messages. Body Sense by stretching out leisurely and carefully. Be very gentle. There is often a lot going on at the end of an event. Perhaps friends and family are there to celebrate with you. A lot of people and a lot of energy can keep you focused externally, but it’s important to be internally aware of your body’s needs. Being internally present and externally aware is a great skill you will have learned from the Chi Marathon book and in your Chi Running practice that will serve you well.
It’s OK to feel good. If your training and event went well, the day after your marathon does not have to feel anything like what you might read about in many marathon books that talk about being “wracked with pain” or “feeling like you were hit by a bus.” It’s an antiquated concept that running a marathon will inflict that kind of damage on your body. If you run with good technique, plenty of time to build your aerobic conditioning, and a solid plan for your specific event, you may be a bit sore or stiff the day after, but the discomfort should be very manageable.
Even if you’re not pleased with your event results, you can follow the concept that there is never a bad run, only lessons to be learned, and give yourself a lot of credit for your efforts. There is no gain in being unkind to yourself.
In the days and week after the marathon, it is very important to keep moving gently. Body Looseners are a great way to get the energy flowing. Swimming, a bike ride, and walking are all great ways to keep moving. Short, loosening runs are absolutely fine, if you feel you can, but no pushing or straining or efforting. So many Chi Runners say they are amazed at how fast they recover. If you run using the intelligence of your mind to take care of your body, you really won’t have a long recovery time.
Take care of yourself with Epsom salt baths and good food. Eat really well all week with healthy carbs, lots and lots of vegetables and fruit, whole grains and protein.
Will there be an encore? The big question many people will ask, and you may well be asking yourself, is whether or not you’ll do it again. The first week should be focused on infusing other aspects of your life with your training and your event. You might have the feeling that you can do anything. Let this body memory sink into every cell of your being, because it’s true. You can do practically anything if you follow a system that allows for healthy progression, such as we present in Chi Marathon. It is a system for accomplishing any marathon-like experience, from writing a book to getting a degree.
When you realize what you are capable of, you can begin to ponder where you want to focus your energies and efforts. Perhaps it will be another event such as a half or full marathon. One client found the courage to start a non-profit she had been dreaming of for years. Her training and new-found health and well-being gave her the tools and energy to make those dreams come true.
The real gifts of marathon running reveal themselves after the event. The confidence, the ability to manage your energy and focus your mind, and the awareness of just how creative and powerful you really are becomes a natural part of how you move through life.
This is the time to reap the rewards of all your consistent efforts. Celebrating your success and If you’ve run with good technique and with a mindful approach to your training, your body should not be in pain, but it will still need time to rest and recover.
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