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The post-marathon body: What to expect
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Running a marathon is something thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of people complete each year, with even more having it on their list of goals. But why the marathon? Don’t these people know the history behind it?
As legend has it, the world’s first marathon was run — unintentionally — in 490 B.C. by a Greek soldier, Pheidippides, who ran the 25 miles to Athens from the town of Marathon to announce a battleground victory over the Persians. “Greetings, we win!” he shouted — and then fell to the ground, dead.
The man died, for heaven’s sake, and people all over the world desire to run this distance. Surely they don’t want the same fate as Pheidippides.
Granted, he was most likely running in suffocatingly heavy battle gear, not lightweight fit apparel. Chances are, there weren’t aid stations equipped with water, Gatorade, GU and Vaseline every three miles, along with spectators cheering him on. And I’m willing to bet that his training regimen — although rigorous — probably didn’t consist of running long distances daily. A Spartan race was probably more his cup of tea.
So, yes, things have improved slightly over the years, making the marathon distance not only bearable but even enjoyable.
However, even as enjoyable and sought after as the marathon is, there are some not-so-pleasant things that can happen to your body after having completed a marathon. And while they are a lot more pleasant than death, these things may just render you useless for a few days.
Here are some of those things:
Chaffing. This is a condition that happens as a result of skin rubbing together over an extended period of time. Some will get it in their inner thighs, some in the armpit area, while others will get it in all the above, and more. Good news: You probably won’t feel it until after the race … when you are in the shower. At which point, you will find yourself crying like a little girl.
Black or lost toenails. This happens as a result of the constant pounding of your feet and when toes repetitively hit against your shoes, causing a blood blister under the toenail. This is not all bad. The purple color can sometimes be mistaken for nail polish, and when it falls off, a new one is soon to follow.
An upset stomach. As much as runners dream of being able to indulge in that post-marathon meal, there is a good chance that your stomach may not be able to handle it. Good thing most marathons are fully stocked in bread (carbohydrates), and chocolate milk (protein); two things your body needs. That marathon meal may need to wait a few hours longer.
Sore … no, REALLY sore legs. The whole irony of the marathon is mere minutes after completion, just walking is a huge task. You find yourself hobbling around the aid stations at a speed a sloth would laugh at. This waddling will last a few days, and you will be sorry that you bought that tri-level house with accompanying stairs.
Finally, and I saved the worst for last:
You may just have a strong urge to run another marathon, subjecting yourself to all of the above and more. A vicious cycle indeed.
What are your post-marathon symptoms? Share them with us by going to the Reasons to Run Facebook page.