When the Soreness Has Faded


With each marathon I have done, the soreness has lasted less time, which is a good sign, right?

Well yes, you don’t look like you have been beaten up while you walk around, and of course, not being in pain is good…although a sick part of me kind of likes the post marathon soreness, as it is a reminder of what you accomplished and how hard you worked to get there.

But actually, in a lot of ways, the soreness fading faster is a bad thing.

It means that you start feeling like normal a lot quicker.

If you listen to my suggestions, and take that 1-2 weeks off after your marathon, you will notice that your hunger doesn’t really go down, so you are taking in plenty of fuel….although if you are anything like me, a lot of that fuel is not exactly premium quality 😉

But anyway, with the lack of activity and ample energy coming in, you feel good, really good.

I really enjoyed the first 7 days of my time off, and even by day 9, it wasn’t like I was itching to get back out there, I could have done the 14 days no problem, but I just felt like it was “time”.

I felt rested, recovered, and ready to go.

Steve and I agreed that I would take the minimum time off, 10 days, rather than the maximum of 14 days.

The first run back, I had planned to meet up with Sara (Slattery, she did a guest post once), and some of her friends.

GREAT! I thought!

I am gonna be full of energy and will really enjoy this 6 miles. Maybe if I feel REALLY good today, Steve will let me do 7s for the rest of the week (instead of 6).

I laced up my Saucony ISO Freedom (which I LOVE by the way, quickly becoming my new favorite shoe, my coupon code TINA gets you 10% off at Saucony.com), did my warm up drills and mobility exercises, and headed down to the lobby of the hotel to meet them.

The first few minutes, I felt like one of those old films where there is a rusty robot that needs oil in its joints. All of my tendons and joints felt like they had glued together.

But that is to be expected right?

In a few minutes, I am gonna feel GREAT.

But then a few minutes turned to 10 minutes, and 10 minutes turned to 20 minutes.

My joints loosened up, but my quads felt trashed. They felt as though the marathon was just a few days ago, and they were just sore.

I was reminded of how I felt on the second day after the marathon.

How can this be?

How can I have felt SO good, but this feels so very bad.

Everything in my body felt great, except for the part of my leg from my knees halfway up my quad.

Even though I had entertaining company, and people to talk to, I looked forward to being done.

This is NOT how it is supposed to be!

Once I got back, I shared my experience with Steve, and we agreed to give it another day. If I didn’t feel any better, we would take a few more days off.

So we did.

I noticed the next morning, that my quads were actually a little sore again walking around, but once I got running (VERY SLOWLY!), I felt a significant improvement from the day before, and then the next day, another improvement.


BUT, the point of this isn’t to say that you just have to run through the soreness. I fully believe that EVERY runner should take at least one week off running after a marathon.

Even if you ran bad.

Even if you ran slow.

Even if you don’t feel tired or sore.

You still ran an entire marathon training segment, which is very hard on the body AND you ran 26.2 miles!

I don’t care who you are, THAT is hard on the body!

So you do take 1-2 weeks off, and maybe, like me, you feel raring to go, like you are rested and well.

Time to get going again.

But your body has other ideas. Maybe yours isn’t your quads. Maybe it isn’t even muscle at all and you just feel very tired.

A marathon is hard on your body, and this soreness I experienced was a great reminder for me that our bodies are amazing.

They are able to repair quickly, and get you back to a comfortable state.

But even though you no longer feel the soreness, that does not mean that your body is healed. There is still a lot going on internally, and that should not be ignored.

This is so important at this time in a training segment. if you are not careful, you can put yourself in a deep hole, that can take a very long time to climb out.

This is the time that most people either end up picking up an injury (even if it does not surface for a few more weeks) and it is also the time when a lot of people end up on the verge of overtraining and push their body over the edge.

We kept my runs very slow this week, and we will be increasing the mileage based on how I feel, being very conservative.

We know that I always take a little longer to recover from marathons than most, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. I just make sure to stay away from those accounts on Instagram that make me feel bad about myself.

If they recover faster, good for them, but you will have a strength in another area that they don’t 🙂

Just like I say you need to Be Brave. Be Strong. Be You. about your body type and how different we are in shape and size, every body recovers at a different rate, so don’t let the comparison trap make you feel bad.

I just wanted to share this today to show you that if you are struggling to bounce back after a race, you are not alone.

This is the time more than any other to listen to your body, and I hope you will commit with me, right here, right now, to listen to its plea.

Even if you are not a marathoner, this still applies to you, just maybe on a shorter scale.

Don’t go trying to run hard again a few days after a tough race. Let your body tell you when it is ready, and if in doubt, always take an extra day.

And of course, keep those damn easy days easy!!!!

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How quickly do you tend to bounce back after a race?

marathon, marathon recovery, racing, struggles

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  • Enjoy your time with family and friends! xoxo

  • Runningwithallergies
    December 21, 2016 7:14 am

    Way to go, Tina! Depending on my training going into race, I can feel good within days, but the first run back is always awful. Now that I am more regularly doing myrtl, bodyweight, and core exercises, though, perhaps it will be different? I have a tendency to slack in the weights/core area, but I am finally pushing past it. Foam rollers are amazing, even when I neglect mine for longer than I should. Have a lovely set of holidays!

  • Victoria Anderson
    December 21, 2016 7:45 am

    Ohhhhhh boy have I made this mistake after a marathon. One time, my entire endocrine system crashed and I almost found myself in the hospital. It’s SO HARD because you feel GREAT but you aren’t. I feel like ~2 weeks after a distance event where you really go to the well, this is the one time I might NOT want listen to my body, because it is lying to you and you are definitely not yet ok to go.

    I just repeated this mistake again after a half ironman in November, but not as badly. I took 8 days off, and then wanted to race a 5k on day 11 (I know). Did a couple of jogs, raced a fast 5k, and then had SO MUCH FUN RUNNING that I screwed up my glute medius. Started PT/etc right away so it’s better now, but geeze. Probably set me back a few weeks for 2017. Glad you are smarter than me here :).

    • Danielle Anne Guttinger
      December 21, 2016 9:49 am

      Omg I totally get you! I did my first half ironman because I was injured and had to cut back my marathon training. Lol. After my first half im I was desperately in need of time off but ended training for a full instead. I know I have some wires crossed inside my head but glad to find people of the same crazy tribe ?

  • Danielle Anne Guttinger
    December 21, 2016 9:46 am

    Wow this is the most brilliant thing I’ve read in all my running life. I wish I had read this years ago! Even though I consider myself mentally tough, I definitely have fallen into the trap of pushing myself too hard after a long run or race because I see other people running. I need recovery time but don’t always take it! That’s so silly, I’m doing this for fun so what’s wrong with me? See you get the idea. I realize I need to practice what I preach. I really admire you and want to put my strength into recovery. That seems to take more discipline than training sometimes. Tina thank you so much, this post was priceless:)

  • The problem might be that we need to train hard to improve, so we can’t moderate ourselves even though we know we should. I got an injury 4 weeks ago when doing an interval program. I felt something was wrong, but I was coming from 2 days off running, and hadn’t felt anything unusual the last time. So I ran with pain. Hopefully I can learn from my mistake.

    It’s obvious that you need more time off when your legs got so beaten up, but hard to do in practice.

  • So important! I’m amazed at the runners I’ll see on social media jumping right back in after a marathon. Thanks for this reminder! And enjoy your trip… so glad you can travel and enjoy some down time!

  • Gonna approach this from the perspective of a runner who got injured and didn’t make it to her goal race… but post-race recovery and cutback weeks are important. I went 2.5 years without an injury so thought I was doing something right. Obviously, I was with not getting injured… but since I did not get injured I just kept on training and never really took a break. Yeah, after I PRed the Charleston Half Marathon in January I took a down week, and I only ran 3 days one week in August when I was on vacation… but I really shortchanged myself on breaks for a LONG time. I felt good after races, saw others running, and so I just resumed training. It’s sad when you’re so Type A like me that it takes an injury to get you to take a break, rather than just taking a week off after a goal race.

  • I’ve been loving all your photos and updates on Instagram 🙂 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! Enjoy your much needed and deserved time off! xo

  • The downtime is so important! I took about 8 days off after CIM and my mileage has been easy and short since then. I never understand when I see runners jumping fully back in within a few days after a marathon- my mind and body crave the break.
    Enjoy your time with family and friends! Hopefully the PNW weather behaves for you – it’s been so weird lately. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  • Tina this is a great reminder and I also think its important to not just take time off from running but doing anything strenuous. When I ran the SF marathon in July, we were in the process of moving. Two days after the marathon I did a ton of packing: squatting up/down, lifting, bending, etc. A day later I got sick-just this low grade nausea, chills and zero energy that stuck with me for the rest of the week. It was a great reminder that marathon’s are so tough that next time (Big Sur in April 2017!) I will be sure to lay low with not just traditional exercise but with life in general.

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