You hear a lot of things about what to expect from your body the week after running a marathon. It’s a very individual thing so you never really know for sure until you’ve been through it yourself. Luckily for me it wasn’t completely debilitating. Lots of aches and pains, sure, but I don’t think it was anything worse than what I put up with during my 18 week training cycle. The worst is a self diagnosed case of Plantar Fasciitis (it’s amazing how all runners end up being physicians too). A ligament on the sole of my left foot became aggravated & inflamed. It was definitely painful for a couple of days, causing a little limping around (when no one was looking, to avoid the “Aha – so running IS bad for you” from pessimistic bystanders). This was something I noticed during training but was never too much of an issue. I guess slapping your foot on the ground a couple of thousand times in a row has a tendency to bring those little problems to the surface. Stupid Plantar Fasciitis – no big deal though. I took a break from running & tennis this week and the old PF seems to be settling down.
The bigger injury is the time injury to my ego. Everyone tells you not to have a time expectation when running your first marathon and just to enjoy the experience. That’s tough advice to follow when you are psychotically adhering to a training schedule and constantly crunching numbers. I am a obsessive compulsive programmer working with databases all day after all, so having access to all that training data from my Garmin is a dangerous thing. My chip time from the marathon was 4:27:26. I “conservatively” was hoping to come in around 4:15 but would have been happy to be within a couple of minutes of that. 4:27 – those twelve extra minutes seem like HOURS on paper – Ugh.
The good news (if you can call it that) is that I think the 20 mile “wall” was mostly mental for me. I’m pretty sure my legs were trained enough and ready to go further, but I was not prepared for how exhausted I would be mentally. All the obsessive reading I did prior to the race emphasized the physiological demands of the distance, I didn’t listen to the advice of veterans who emphasized mental preparation. So now I know – I think my next goal is 4 hours – I know I can do it, Plantar Fasciitis be damned.