Post-marathon side-effects

Hi all,

Wondering if anyone can shed some light on the following for me...

I ran my first marathon in Loch Ness just over a fortnight ago. I pulled up with bad cramps and a sore calf muscle just after 14m but managed to limp home the remaining 12m finishing in a disappointing but, under the circumstances, respectable 4:37:23.

After a lot of stretching and a few ice baths in the coming days, my legs started to feel normal again and, since the race, I have managed four games of 5-a-side football, a round of golf, a couple of trips to the gym (incorporating some treadmill work and cycling) and, tonight, I went for my first road run, covering 5km.

However, all of the way round, I felt incredibly unfit, i.e. tired legs, wheezy breathing, etc. I can understand the tired legs but the wheezy unfit feeling has got me a bit puzzled and concerned.

Can anyone more experienced over marathon distances explain if this is normal after covering such a big distance for the first time?




  • For your first marathon I'd say this was completely normal image.

    It can take up to 3 weeks for your body to completely recover from your longest run - ie: the marathon.

    For one week after a marathon I generally do not run at all.  The "comeback week" - I'll just do limited mileage and all at an easy pace.  The next week will still be easy.  Then I'll begin the cycle of training again... for me that is a four week cycle of 3 weeks building and a week of easier "consolidation" work.

    The marathon and the necessary training can also lower your immune system leaving you slightly more open to any bugs/virus's about.  So you may be a bit under the weather generally.

    Another thing is psychology - you feel a little under the weather so it feels worse than it is!  It always feels harder to run after 2 - 3 easier weeks.  This is normal.  Take it easy for another week or so and you will be fine I'm sure! 

    Well done on the marathon.  I love Loch Ness.... I got my PB there in 2005!  

  • After your 1st, IMHO I would say that it will take approximately 4 weeks to get back to normal.

    Rule of thumb with regards to recovery is a day for every mile raced......26 days.

  • I've been wondering this same thing myself.  I did my first marathon in Berlin over 3 weeks ago.  I didn't suffer any horrible cramps or anything but finished in just over 4.5h because I'm really slow!

    I took a full week off in Berlin, sightseeing, then developed a bad chest cold so had another full week off.  When I went back to running last week it was like starting all over again!  My heart rate is through the roof - approximately 20bpm higher than for equivalent runs prior to the marathon.  I put this down to needing to recover a bit longer and have kept my runs really slow but still this morning I hit 185bpm on a slow, "easy" run.

    Should I ignore this and allow my heart rate to soar?  Or pull my pace back even further (it's already 30s/m slower than my easy runs used to be) and force my heart rate to stay low?  Or leave the monitor at home and just run to how I feel?

     Sorry for all the questions.  As the tag line to the thread title says, I should be feeling at peak fitness and I'm most definitely not!  My 26 days are just about up as well so I'm not sure I can use that as an excuse.  Have any of you more seasoned marathoners experience anything like this?

  • Rubbishrunner,

    Probably a combination of having the cold and still recovering from Berlin. Day recovery for every mile raced is really a wet finger in the air and akin to 220-minus your age for your max heart rate.

    Persoanlly, I would still continue to use my HRM (as I do) and just run a little slower even if that means running 30s per mile slower than "normal". Would have said running by how you feel and with HRM should equate to pretty much the same pace!

    Your "normal" speed against heart rate will come back as will your fitness. Just give it a little more time, may a take a few more weeks.

    The more you force the pace the longer you'll stay in the current rut!

  • Hi Sean,

    Thanks for the advice.  It's just kind of frustrating to run so slowly.  I'll keep trundling along for the next few runs and hopefully things will start to come together again.

    I'm contemplating another marathon in Spring, so I'll need to get my act together soon!

    Thanks again!

  • Thread resurrection - sorry!!

     So, basically, my running just didn't improve at all since Berlin.  I've found my times getting slower and my heart rate getting higher and have felt like packing this whole running thing in altogether.

     However, last week I had a blood test done that showed low ferritin levels and low-normal haemoglobin/haematocrit.  I've Googled ferritin to death, started iron supplements and I know it's going to take a few weeks to feel a bit more normal when I'm running.

    My question - should I just allow my HR to soar and try and maintain some sort of pace or am I doing more harm than good with this?  My paces are pitiful - I'm running 10.20min/mile at about 80% WHR, when before I was running 10min/mile at 65-70% WHR.  Which is worse - stupidly slow pace or silly high HR?  I'm supposed to be running the Rome marathon in March so I can't really afford to drop training too much at the moment.

    Thanks in advance image

  • Hi Rubbishrunner, I've just come across your thread and thought I'd contribute.  I had a simlar problem last year - did a couple of races (10K) , and I just felt wrong, much more knackered than I should have been, with a high pulse though I still got round in an ok time.  I found out I had very low ferritin, and took iron supplements. 

    I don't have a heart rate monitor so I always run as I feel or at a pace I can judge.  After the problems with a high pulse during runs (I could feel my heart pounding so I didn't need a HRM to tell me!) I just ran really slowly during training.  If I speeded up I always felt awful.  After a month or so I was fine and back to almost normal.  I still take one tablet a day for preventative purposes now.

    So, in answer to your question, personally I'd go for running slowly, rather than with a higher heart rate.  Things wil improve eventually, I'm sure.  You're better to get round the marathon in March at a slow pace that doesn't overstress your body.


  • Hi Liz, thanks for that. It's hard mentally to go slower even though I know that's easier for me to manage just now.

    I'll try and be patient. It's good to hear that it didn't take too long for you to feel better. I'll keep plodding away image

    Many thanks!
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