Who this post is for?
If you intend to run or participate in a Marathon, then this post is for you as it is for me.
If you’re a veteran in the field, then I request you to read this post and provide your feedback on it. Please feel free to correct me if you find anything wrong or add on to the points mentioned below in the comments box. We could all benefit from your experience.
Why should you hear me out?
Running one marathon does not make me an expert; not enough to tell you what you should be doing if you are indeed planning to run. But it’s given me a taste of what happens if you don’t do it right; so you must read on if you want to enjoy the experience and savor the achievement.
While the feeling of having completed the run was one that wavered between disbelief and absolute bliss, I found my energy dwindling 3 hours after the run to a point where my brain felt like it would burst out of my skull and my legs felt like they had lead tied on them, knee-down. That, this was a side-effect of taking part in a run seemed hard to believe. Why would people go for it year after year, run after run, if it felt this way?
The most obvious reason seemed to be that I hadn’t practiced enough. But even this didn’t seem convincing enough. The search for an answer led to this post.
A little background to the events after the Run
Going in a group meant waiting for all member of the group to complete.That also meant us standing around posing and taking selfies, sending messages to family across the seven seas on our achievement, stretching a little in between while continuously chatting twenty to the dozen. Once all members of the group had congregated, we headed to the nearest mall for breakfast which took us another 30 minutes by walk and then another 20 minutes or so to get to the coffee shop and still another 15 minutes before we had our first bite after the Run.
A turkey and cheese sandwich, a sugar donut and a cappuccino felt like seventh heaven.
Half an hour later though, on the way home, I wasn’t feeling as good as I should have been after the amazing breakfast . A little headache had begun to surface by then.
“A warm shower and a nap and I would be fine”, I thought shrugging off the nagging headache.
Another hour or two and I lay on the bed, eyes open, staring at the ceiling. I couldn’t sleep! No, it wasn’t the dizziness of excitement or the disbelief of having done it, that drove sweet slumber away.
And it was during this period while I lay awake like a zombie that this poem took shape…one that spoke of my current state.
My head’s beating like my heart,
My legs are sore,
And I feel pain in every part,
That I ne’er knew existed before…
My body’s breaking,
I cannot sleep a wink,
I lie waking,
Too much adrenaline, I think,
So, here are some tips,
Follow to the ‘T’!
So you don’t make the slips,
Comes from experience and it’s all for free!
Did it sound like I was hallucinating? Maybe I was...
Coming back to the Present : Lessons to be learnt from my limited experience
It took me 2 whole days to get back on my feet after the Run. It may have taken longer had I had the luxury of sitting around doing nothing.
So here it is : Things I did right that you must do!
Visit the doctor and ensure you are medically fit to go for a marathon
You mustn’t go for a marathon if you have an injury or back problems, high B.P etc. I’m no doctor so I wouldn’t be able to list all the conditions here. I could only tell you that It’s better to check with your doctor and get a go-ahead.
Start training at-least 4 months in advance
Honestly, I had no clue that this was a basic rule but fortunately we started training 4 months ahead of the Marathon. It just happened because the registration started 4 months in advance and the moment we registered, we started training.
Note : You need to be walking at-least 3 kms on a regular basis (3 to 4 times a week) for the 16 weeks plan to work. If you haven’t been walking or doing any kind of exercise, then you would have to train longer.
Get a group
It’s great to be part of a group that challenges you and motivates you to train. You don’t have to train together if you’d rather be alone but having a group allows you to talk about your achievements, your failures and it doesn’t make the training period monotonous. I was fortunate that my group chose me. That saved me the trouble of forming a group.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Everybody knows practice is key to getting anything right but if I am going to make a “To-do” list for you, then I must mention it.
Luckily for me, I managed to get a month’s practice over which I slowly increased the distance of my walk/run and increasing the time of practice. Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue my practice because of circumstances that were beyond my control. But things beyond your control are simply out of your control. So don’t fret about those.
Don’t Over-do it
It may sound contradictory to the above point but that’s a fact. Do not strain your muscles. Jogging or walking must not be done more than thrice a week when you are practicing. You must do weights to strengthen your muscles, lunges and stretching. Just don’t do the elliptical like I did. You must let your muscles heal by giving yourself a break once or twice a week.
While you may want to treat yourself to sugars after a run, don’t! I did it shamelessly. “Why not? I deserved it after all that exercise” is what I told myself.
Sugar is white poison. Use it wisely. Limit it if you can’t stop it. Check the link to know the foods that you must eat Food for runners
The night before the run, have carbohydrates for energy. Do not have food rich in fiber such as legumes or spicy foods that may hurt your stomach. You wouldn’t want to be running for a washroom in the middle of the run. Thankfully, this wasn’t an issue for me. Having a sensitive stomach, I ate light but that’s also a problem. You must eat! Your body needs fuel and if you’re going to make it run, you better ensure that it’s got the fuel.
Relax your legs: Don’t do anything strenuous the day before the Marathon.
Wear your most comfortable running outfit and shoes
Do not wear anything new just before the marathon. Ensure you’ve trained in your shoes and you wear the same for the marathon. You don’t want to get shoe bites. You must also wear comfortable inner-wear, not the latest thing you’ve gifted yourself because of your new running fad.
During the run follow your pace. Don’t run faster because somebody else is doing it. You need to go as per your pace to avoid injuring yourself during the run or tiring yourself before completion. Remember, as many people go past you, there are many more behind you. And even if there aren’t, it doesn’t matter. Just keep your pace.
Have Faith and Believe in yourself– Just keep going. Tell yourself, it’s o.k. to slow down a bit then pick up speed but keep going. You can do it. While stamina is important, I believe you need to have a strong will power to do it. Isn’t that true for every other thing that you take up. You mustn’t give up. Don’t make excuses. While there will always be things beyond your control like the weather, don’t let these things make you overly anxious.
Celebrate your achievement: It doesn’t matter if you weren’t fast as you wanted to be. Remember you are special because you actually took part. As per the statistics, you belong to 1% of the entire world’s population because these are the numbers that actually take part in a run.
Things I did not do…Lessons from my mistakes…You don’t need to make the same mistakes!
Keep yourself hydrated
It’s simply important to do so. Drinking water, a lot of it much before you run ensures you don’t get cramps or stitches when you run. You will be losing a lot of water through sweat as you run. You need to replenish it and give yourself enough water to sweat so that you protect your muscles and your body from damage. Staying hydrated keeps your body cool for longer during the run and improves your performance. A possible reason for my pains was that I hadn’t hydrated. Remember from my previous post that I had forgotten to drink as much water as I was supposed to and I was too lazy to get out of bed to have some.
Don’t ignore the golden hour. You need to eat a lot of good food in the first hour after the run. At-least have the banana or whatever it is that’s given by the organizers of the run.
I know you’re excited about the medal and are waiting to take pictures of your achievement and share it with all your social media groups, but please have the banana first. I keep saying “banana” because that was what was offered after our run but I was too excited to stand in queue to collect it. Also, I saw a number of smashed bananas around so I decided against taking it. Why waste it? I had no clue how important it was until later. In fact, as we waited for each other and then walked up to a mall for 20 minutes and then hunted around the mall for a place to have breakfast, that banana would have been the magic potion to help me get past the Golden hour.
Stretch after the Run
Contrary to popular belief, stretching after the run is far more important than stretching before the run. There’s are no alternatives to stretching. If you don’t, your muscles will get tighter and tighter and it will snap and you may never be able to run a marathon again. No, I’m not exaggerating. This was what I found as I went about collecting data for this post.
- You need to stretch at-least for 10 minutes.
- You need to follow the exercises on the posted I’ve attached alongside.
- You can follow these exercises 5 exercises to help you recover after a run
Hot Shower or Cold Shower?
A hot shower is fine only if you’ve done your stretches and cool-down exercises to lower your body temperature. While a hot shower is a great way to soothe aching muscles and aids in getting rid of the lactic acid from your body by increasing blood flow, do not go for a hot shower if you have strained, sprained or torn a muscle. In these cases, a ice pack followed by a cold shower would help you get back to the gym faster.
Prop up your legs once you’re home and resting
That will help drain the lactic acid that gets collected in your legs after the run. What is lactic acid? It’s the product of anaerobic respiration: what your body does when it requires much more energy than it can produce as a result of aerobic respiration. The result of anaerobic respiration is lactic acid and energy. This creates pain if collected in the legs.To help it drain out easily, lie on the floor with your legs vertically up against a wall for 10 minutes every-day: it could save you from feet ache. Benefits of propping your leg against the wall
Get back on the field
There are some aches that will go away only when you repeat the action. Aches and pains from running i.e. as long as they are not caused by injuries, will go away only when you walk or run some more. So get back on the road, walk or run and then come home and stretch.
Finally I wish all of you who have always wanted to try it out, a strong will to make it happen. All the best for your Run! May the Force be with You!
I hope you found the post useful. There may be a lot more tips but these are the basics that you must follow to make your Run a pleasurable experience. If you have any more tips, don’t forget to share it in the comments box.
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