After the Marathon: All the Feels

Your race is done! Congratulations! You are now a part of the one percent of people who have ever completed a marathon! Let’s talk about what you may feel the moments and days after the culmination of your hard work. 

First, you are happy the race is over, and you may even feel shocked that you finished! I typically shed at least a few tears after crossing the finish line of a big race like a marathon. (My husband has video evidence of this phenomenon as I crossed the finish line of the Richmond one year. I shed all the ugly tears as one of my friends awarded me my medal!) 

Second, you hurt. Like EVERYTHING hurts. Not just your legs and feet, but your shoulders, upper back, arms, abs… you used all you had to complete your race. You may be surprised to find blisters and chafed areas you didn’t realize were there until you shower.

You may develop an unhealthy relationship with stairs. Yes, stairs are indeed stupid after a marathon. It is what it is!

Are you hungry? Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes it takes a bit for your body to be ready for food. That’s ok. Just make sure you drink lots of fluids, and not necessarily all of them adult beverages! It’s best if you are taking in both water and electrolytes. You will get hungry eventually.

Do take part in your usual post-long run rituals. Your body is used to this and needs it.

You may benefit from wearing compression socks after your race. They will help improve circulation and relieve some stress to your feet and lower legs, helping you recover faster. But don’t wear them to bed!

Sleep may be elusive. Even though your body and spirit are exhausted, you may feel restless instead of surrendering to slumber. 

You may feel pressure to return to running as soon as possible. But be patient with yourself. Your body needs time to heal from this effort, especially if this is your first time tackling this distance, and that is ok. 

The more times you run this distance, the more your body will adapt and remember, and the more quickly you will recover. 

In the days following your race, you may encounter some melancholy thoughts: post-marathon blues. I wrote this article about the phenomenon last year.

But whether this is your first marathon or your tenth, do take at least a moment to relish in your accomplishment. You deserve it!

Some of my marathon medals.


To my fellow marathoners, did I miss anything? Can you identify with these feelings? If you are running a marathon this fall, I wish you much success!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, SPIbelt, Goodr, Noxgear, and Switch4Good.

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