So, you've run a marathon. Congratulations! Few experiences equal the ecstatic high of a 26.2-mile journey full of free bananas and a flood of sweat.
But now comes the long list of to-dos. You must celebrate, of course. Snap the "I'm-chomping-on-my-medal" selfie. Wonder whether you should have gone harder, or been more conservative. You must tend to your friends' supportive Instagram comments and texts, then to your weary calves. And frozen quads. And tight hamstrings, blistered toes—even your Rudolph-red nose if you forgot sunscreen. The next day may feel anticlimactic: What's next? But one voice will cry louder than the rest: DOMS.
Like logging long runs on a treadmill (torture) or a mid-race bellyache (crippling), DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) can dim your view of the entire world. Whether or not you smack into the infamous mile 20 wall, in the days after a marathon you're going to feel It.
It is soreness deeper than the Mariana Trench, an exhaustion equal to Hillary's after the endless primary season, an ache rivaled only by the pain you felt after learning Prince died. It makes you want to fold your broken body into bed and watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, if only to learn her secret to becoming, well, unbreakable.
Deep breaths, relentless runners. Muscle fatigue may be uncomfortable, but these alternative scenarios are arguably worse.
1. Ten faulty fingers
'Tis one of life's cruel jokes that the tiniest appendage can be your biggest weakness. Because so many body parts need to function perfectly for a flawless run, it's even more annoying when your dumb little fingers freeze in the winter (stinging and turning paper white if you have Raynaud's) and swell in the summer when dehydration's the norm.
2. Droopy underwear
Compared to intense post-marathon pain, a sagging pair might seem trivial. At first. But at least you can attend to your sore muscles in private. If your undergarments start sliding south in the middle of the park, it's a little awkward to stop and yank them up. But yank you shall.
3. A bare fridge
After conquering a hill workout or crushing a 6 x 800 interval session, your first thought is likely: Got food? So opening your refrigerator and realizing there's nothing in there except four kinds of mustard can be wildly disappointing. Proper snacking is crucial for recovery— and condiments don't exactly contain the ideal protein-to-carb ratio.
4. An unexpected flow
LOL. You totally thought you had another day or two before your period started, so it'd be no problem to sneak in a long run sans safeguards. How hysterical, then, when your monthly best friend decides to stop by while you're miles from home. High. Stair. Ick. All.
5. Discontinued shoes
You love three things in life: your grandparents, Frank and Claire Underwood, and your favorite pair of running shoes. But because brands like to constantly update their designs, the next time you're due for a refresh you might find your perfect trainers irreparably tweaked and—horror!—unrecognizable. Go ahead and throw a tear-streaked shoe burial. No one's judging.
6. Dead trackers
Some people advocate for tech-free runs. Others cling to their Garmins and Runkeepers like buoys in a hurricane. But almost everyone can commiserate with the frustration that occurs when something is on the fritz. Maybe you forgot to charge your watch, or your app crashed, or your iPhone died because it's allergic to winter. (Us too, but seriously?!) When your tracking device stops working, your heart stops beating. At least for a second or two.
7. Random injuries
Let's face it: All running-related pain feels random and unwelcome. You didn't purposely ignore strength training or request shin splints. So when things head south and you pull a hamstring or, heck, even if you accidentally stub a toe, it can be infuriating to halt training or pause your routine. You think, Whyyyyy me? And then you wait. And wait. And wait and...
8. Zero days
These are the days you don't run because you were exhausted or a wee bit hungover or ran out of clean shirts or would rather order in fried wontons and pass out on the couch. These days are sometimes necessary (and shouldn't be confused with rest days—very different animals). But maybe you had a few too many zero days. Maybe they added up to weeks, months, years. Zero days make your insides lurch because you're not living up to your own capabilities. Want the truth? The only thing worse than post-marathon fatigue is being tired from not trying at all.