Q+A: Why am I tired two weeks after my marathon?

Our experts answer real-life questions


Posted: 9 September 2000
by Bruce Tulloh

Q Less than a month ago, after just a year of running, I finished my first marathon. I felt fine within a few days, and thought I’d have no problems getting back into training. But after a couple of weeks of complete rest, I went to the gym and found I couldn’t handle any more than 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise! Is this normal?

A When you wrote, your marathon was still less than four weeks behind you. At this point it is quite normal to still be feeling the after-effects, especially if you are a first-timer without a long background in running. You’ve invested a great deal of energy, both physical and mental, and a great deal of time in your marathon debut.

Running such a long way will have taken a fair toll on your body, and it will need between three and six weeks to fully recover. And if you’re a bit low and directionless, running-wise, that’s normal too. For maybe six months your sole aim has been to run the marathon, and now you’re wondering ‘what’s next?’

It doesn’t have to be another marathon of course. Why not use all the hard work you put in for the marathon to improve your times at shorter distances? There’s no need to rush back into hard training; just ease yourself back into running with a few gentle runs, and maybe rediscover things you neglected during the last few weeks of your marathon build-up – head back to the gym or get the bike out of the shed.

When you feel like training hard again, pick a new goal. After a spring marathon I usually recommend that the people I coach train for 5Ks in the summer. Why not have a go at this distance on the track, as well as the road. You’ll retain the endurance benefits of your marathon training, and working on your speed in the summer will help you to perform better over 10K, 10 miles and half-marathons in the autumn. After that, you can start training for your second marathon.

Bruce Tulloh, endurance coach and organiser of the Safari Marathon


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