As the running seasons wraps up it can be hard to find the motivation to train without an event or goal to work towards. So this week we caught up with personal trainer and runPositive Wellness Collective member, Kirsty Welsh to give us her tips on how to stay inspired, remain motivated and maintain momentum post marathon.
If you’re feeling tired after your event, good, you’re human! Take a solid week at least to celebrate your massive achievement by doing diddly squat, (not to be confused with front squats). A huge amount of sacrifice goes into marathon and event training, so allow yourself some fun time and things you would have liked to do over the past few months that you’ve perhaps said no to.
Q: How long is it ok to do nothing post-marathon? A week? Only a couple of days?
No matter how sore you may or may not feel, your body has undergone huge physiological stress. Your muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints, and every system in your body has been pushed to the limit.
If you choose to continue training immediately, you are doing your future self an injustice. You might feel good on the outside, but your insides need a break; there is no need to worry about losing your peak fitness by allowing your body to recover. This can be achieved again very quickly where an injury or sickness due to lowered immunity has far more potential to set you back. A 7-10 day break is generally recommended post-marathon, with regular hot baths and massages to remove cellular wastage and increase nutrients to your muscles. If taking a break is unfathomable (I get it!), try just a short 5km every couple of days for the first 10 days.
Q: Would it be best to try different activities like biking, hiking or tennis to keep fitness up before easing back into running?
This is a fantastic idea! Running is an incredible sport, but it is seriously taxing on your hips, knees and back with the same motion and impact over and over again; it’s not called ‘pavement pounding’ for nothing.
Try a range of sports with less body impact that are completely different to running but will keep your VO2 at a good level. Remember it will benefit your running in the long-term! Commit to regular yoga to re-balance your body before the next marathon season.
Q: Should I have a new training goal set before completing my event?
I believe it’s important to see each goal through and celebrate your achievements before embarking on the next adventure. Create a list of fitness endeavours you wish to do within the next few years so as each event is ticked off the list, you know you’ve got more waiting for you without giving the future your focus just yet. Keep your focus on the current event, see it out to completion, and then move on.
Q: How long will it take my body to fully recover after running a marathon?
This is completely dependent on how much care and energy you place on your health, as well as your posture, body condition and strength pre-marathon. My best advice is to ensure your body is balanced before you undergo the high mileage training. See a running trainer for a specific strength program and help on optimising your running stride. Just like pregnancy, the better shape you are in beforehand, the quicker you will recover.
If you feel uncomfortable or different sensations in your muscles and joints, do not continue to train as if nothing is wrong; get professional support. The calves in particular take a huge amount of loading with marathon training and could do with some TLC from your physiotherapist. Imagine badly how a small calf tear could affect your life!
Q: What if I didn’t make my goal time – any advice on how to encourage myself after failing to reach my target?
Use this ammo as fuel for your next marathon! Be kind to yourself too, just finishing the race is a huge achievement in itself. But then ask yourself some honest questions: Did you stick to your training regime? Did you support yourself with proper nutrition and stretching? Perhaps it’s time to start yoga to help your muscles communicate better with each other and gain extra range of motion and balance between working muscles. Try adding more core and hip stability training to your regime and your speed is bound to increase. Buy yourself a fancy training accessory like a Fitbit or Jawbone that makes fitness and health tracking a breeze. Find a mate who is fitter than you and train with them. Make sure too that your target is actually realistic! There is no need to set yourself up for failure on purpose!
Q: Is it important to keep to your training diet and regime straight after a marathon or is it helpful to take a break altogether?
Eat, sleep and workout to the requirements of your activity levels. If you’re no longer running the mileage, you won’t need as much carbohydrate in your body to fuel the high amounts of exercise. If you’re in rest mode, enjoy it, but don’t lose your health. Eat and move to nourish your body.