Post Marathon Recovery Time

Now that my first marathon is over, I can finally reflect on how the entire journey has gone – from my initial idea back in August 2018 through the winter of training up until now – one month after the race.

Weeks have gone by since I tackled Atlanta and I just don’t feel quite right yet.  

How the marathon brought me to my knees begging for forgiveness
The humbling experience of running a marathon

In the days immediately following the marathon, I felt a tinge of disappointment.  It was mainly because I hadn’t checked the elevation/course map of Atlanta and didn’t know that the city and course were going to be supremely hilly.  I felt dumb that I went into the race so blindly and came out of it trashed and wasted. I should have looked – maybe I would have picked Virginia Beach instead.

But now that the race is clearly in the rearview mirror, I can finally reflect on everything that has transpired since training began in the middle of December.  

At the beginning of training, I always had an emergency plan – I have signed up for far too many races only to get injured during training.  The race would come and I’d be so mad I “wasted” the money on a race I didn’t do.

The story of how Coach Marc is recovering from his marathon
The story of how Coach Marc is recovering from his marathon

I made it to January with a rough start. A bout with a sickness took care of my first 10 days of training.  But in the new year, I caught fire. I hit every training goal I set out. I ran every mile; I stacked training week after training week without a single hiccup.  It was AMAZING. There has never been a time when every run, every week went exactly according to plan. (Sure, I may have banked a 5.5 miler instead of 5 because I knew something was coming up, but every run had a purpose and every run happened.)

I couldn’t believe it and yet, I still didn’t register for the race.  Fool me once, shape on you.

Find Trainwithmarc on Instagram
Find Trainwithmarc on Instagram

February rolled in and I had momentum on my side.  154 miles later, I had posted the best month of training I’d had in years.  For contrast, in 2018, I ran 135 miles in January, February, March, April AND May, COMBINED.  It was a very new feeling for me. Sure, I’ve been in shape before. Sure, I’ve run 300 mile months.  But that was YEARS ago when I was a scholarship athlete who’s only focus in life was to run fast.

Every single emotion runs through you once you've completed a marathon
Every single emotion runs through you once you’ve completed a marathon

This Marc is absolutely, positively different. Obviously, my life goals are different. The time I can spend on running and recovery are different.  Now, I shift from early wakeups to teaching to coaching, right to being a dad to being a husband. Running long distances has become 5th or 6th on my list.

And yet, I kept on keeping on.  After a really strong 20 mile run – where I saw three consecutive miles under 7:05 pace – I finally told myself that I can register for the race.  I hadn’t had a single pain, cramp, tightness anywhere since I finished the Philly Half Marathon in the middle of November.

In the aftermath of the race, the one in which I stupidly went for my “A goal” and came away with a performance that only slightly still stings, I’m still searching for full recovery.

A month has gone by and to be honest, it feels like years.  I want to get back out there so badly and log some easy running miles. I do.  I think I do. I’m not sure I do.

I really want to replicate what I did in the winter. I want the wind and the rain and the sun.  I want it all! And I’m not getting any of it. Besides my tight calf that showed up around mile 20 or 21, I have the itch to run, but not the urge.  I keep telling myself that it’s ok to feel this way. But I don’t really know how I’m feeling.

The 5 stages of emotions of a marathon runner
All 5 stages of marathon training

One thing for sure that I do know is that this feeling I have of blah will pass and I’ll come back smarter and stronger than ever.  I’ve been at the running game for 20 years now and while I’ve never had the outside stressors that I do now, I’m not sure I’ve ever been a more complete runner that how I am in 2019.

It’ll take some time and some more healing before I feel truly me again, but once I do, I now have the blueprint to keep me happy, healthy and motivated for whatever comes my way.  Thank you to my wife, daughter and family for helping me train and allowing me to be the best version of myself. Thanks to everyone who comments and shares what I do. Writing isn’t my strongest passion, but I’m learning how to express my ideas and I have come a long way (seriously, ask my teachers growing up; I hated writing).

What’s your typical recovery time after a marathon? Do you feel the same way I’m feeling? Do you have any suggestions for me?

Did you find this article helpful? Let me know by leaving a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter or Facebook.


Thinking about a running coach?

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Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT & USATF Certified Running Coach
Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT & USATF Certified Running Coach

Marc is a USATF Track and Field & Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT O2 certified running coach. I have more than 19 years of experience running and more than 10 years of experience coaching runners. Click for more information!


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4 thoughts on “Post Marathon Recovery Time

  1. I also feel the post-race lows, especially after a marathon. You spend so many week training for that one race and then when it’s over it’s like “now what”. I usually ‘snap out of it’ within 2 weeks and just start back by running for fun and then eventually picking another race to do.

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  2. deborahbrooks14 April 17, 2019 — 9:50 AM

    I have not run a full marathon before but I have had those same feelings after training for tri races. They take up so much time and energy for months and then they are over. I think It’s a normal feeling!

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  3. RIght?! I’m so emotionally drained. I needed that month off. I am feeling better just getting the words out. I think my body needed that last bit I was holding on to.

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  4. I know – that “now what” really had a tight grip on me. I’m just now coming out of the weeds and feeling a bit normal again.

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