Staying Fit After Running a Marathon

By Caitlin Grams

The marathon is over . . . now what?  Caitlin Grams, who teamed up with Hot Bird Running to train for the Chicago Marathon this fall, explains a few key strategies to maintaining fitness as well as motivation to workout during the months immediately after a marathon.  

MARATHON TRAINING  is a funny thing. You spend months planning your life around a race - scheduling every workout and run, calculating pace, splits, tracking mileage - and then it's over in a day. The day after I ran the Chicago Marathon was a major let down. I didn't know what to do with myself. I had spent months following a strict training plan and suddenly there were no workouts on my calendar, nothing I had to do. I felt both completely lost and totally free. I decided to listen to my body - I took a few days off and then hopped back into yoga and cross training. It was a week later before I went for my first run. Now, a month after my marathon I'm still feeling my way back into running, but I'm loving this time of doing what I want, when I want to.

While it is nice to have the flexibility to do what I want, there is also the danger of totally falling off the wagon post-marathon and not moving enough. When you are coming off of months of planned workouts, not having a plan can make skipping workouts easy, especially as the days get shorter and colder and staying in bed sounds so much nicer than an early morning run. Here are my top 3 tricks to staying fit post marathon:

1.  Do what you want to do - if you don't want to run, don't! Now is the time to fit in all those spin classes you put on hold during training, to recommit to yoga, to try out that new conditioning class you were afraid to start while training. If it sounds fun and exciting to you, you're more likely to get out and do it. If you do feel like running, leave your watch behind - not knowing your time or pace is really freeing after spending so many months consumed by it.

2. Enroll other people - find sweat buddies, make class or run dates with friends so someone else is holding you accountable. Tell other people about your sweat plans so when they check up on you you'll have something to say!

3. Plan your workouts - I spend time every Sunday night comparing my work schedule to my favorite classes and penciling them in, planning runs, and scheduling workout dates with friends. I also usually have a few backups just in case. Going into the week with a plan keeps me motivated.

4. Finally, when you feel ready, sign up for another race! It doesn't have to be a marathon, it can be a 5k fun run, but having something to work towards always keeps me going.

Happy running!

Caitlin is a runner, yogi and SoulCycle addict from Seattle who, thanks to Hot Bird, has come to love crushing Harlem Hill repeats. She is an educator at lululemon Soho, a nutrition student, and blogs at Caitlin Lives Well.