​Post-Marathon Recovery Tips

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Recovering from a marathon is a whole body task, involving emotional and physical challenges. Here are some tips from the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) Psyching Team on how to recover mentally from the amazing feat you’ve just completed.

1.Not training is a form of training. After a marathon, you need time to rest and heal, both physically and psychologically. It is likely that you neglected certain aspects of your life during intense periods of training for the big day. Use this post-event period to focus on time with loved ones and on other experiences that you enjoy.

2.Exercise for fun. Not all exercise has to be timed or involve an effort to improve yourself. Enjoy different forms exercise without the pressure to perform.

3.Listen to your body. The beauty of no longer being in marathon preparation mode is you can practice body-based behaviors. Not feeling like a run today? Take a walk, do yoga, or pull up the covers and get an extra hour of sleep. You can pay attention to training schedules, times and performance goals again soon.

4.Practice mindfulness. A post-marathon emotional letdown is common. The sense of purpose that existed before the event is gone. Thanks to endorphins, you may feel euphoric after the event, but this will not last. As a result, many runners start pursuing the next “high”, partly because it feels great, and often to prevent the post-marathon blues. Resist the urge to sign up for another race right after the marathon. Instead, use mindfulness techniques to stay in the present and sit with the range of emotions that you experience after the marathon. Your feelings are full of valuable information that will serve you well now and in the future.

5.Enjoy the accomplishment! Even if elements of your event did not go as you’d hoped or planned, you have achieved something of which you can be proud. Taking the time to reflect and learn from your experience is valuable. However, it should not overshadow feeling satisfied and pleased with what you have accomplished.


Written by Jennifer Lager, Psy.D. Jennifer Lager, Psy.D. is a McLean, Virginia based Clinical Psychologist. Her practice, GAME- Get A Mental Edge, specializes in performance enhancement for athletes, performing artists and business professionals. Dr. Lager is the Director of the Marine Corps Marathon’s Psyching Team, established in 2019.