Congratulations, you’ve finished your first marathon! You’ve crossed the finish line, high-fived your support crew and uploaded the pictures to Facebook. Now what?
After months of carefully planned training to complete their first 26.2-mile race, runners often take some well-deserved (and necessary) time off. But after putting in all the work to get in marathon shape, it’s inadvisable to take too much time away from running. The key is to find the balance between recovery and regression.
“I was definitely excited to run again but really had to wait until all my ailments healed,” says Dale Arakawa, 48, from Long Beach, Calif., who completed his first marathon on Oct. 13. A hamstring injury slowed him down during the race, but his finish excited him to continue training as soon as possible. He says, “This process has really altered˛me and, as long as I’m physically capable—I will always˛run!”
Arakawa is part of the Saucony 26 Strong project, a collaboration between Women’s Running and Saucony that paired veteran runners with first-timers to train for a fall marathon. Arakawa and his partner, veteran Chris Spensley, 47, from Newport Beach, Calif., are planning to keep the momentum going by signing up for a half marathon in February.
Christine Sinclair, 27, of Jamaica Plain, Mass., who ran the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon on Oct. 6, had that same excitement after her first race. “I was ready to run a few days after my marathon but I knew I needed to take the time to recover,” she says. “I remember seeing people in the train station the following weekend with their B.A.A half marathon medals and thought, ‘I wish I could have done that race!’” She registered for the Los Angeles Marathon a few weeks later.
Post-Marathon Recovery Tips
Get healthy. It’s great to harness the excitement of the marathon, but give your body some time to heal. It’s called the off-season for a reason.
Make a plan. Putting another race on the schedule will help you get back into the training routine once you’ve recovered. A half marathon in the winter or early spring can help you keep that endurance base.
Join a group. If you did the first race solo, find like-minded runners at a local store or club to help keep you motivated and engaged.