By Thomas Bruins


Post race review – The good, bad and ugly

Every athlete goes into a marathon with benchmarked times that range from a time they would love to achieve, right down to a time they would be very disappointed with. As with any race or event it is essential to do a balanced review your performance. What did you do well? What didn’t you do well? If you’re looking to another event, how are you going to prepare?




Post race  Recovery – It hurts …. Once you cross the finish line there will be waves of relief from both a physical and a possibly emotional level. Physically you will be absolutely exhausted. Whilst I recovered quickly aerobically, I experienced muscular fatigue greater than I have ever done before. This muscular exhaustion hit me immediately after the finish – I could barely walk and every part of my legs hurt. Despite my broad experience in racing long distance multisport, a marathon immediately hurt a lot more. It’s a lot shorter than these multisport events so the logic could suggest “I’ve exerted myself in a race longer than my predicted marathon time, so I will be fine”. However, you have never run for as long and attempted it at your best pace. The result is immediate and intense muscular fatigue that does not go away quickly.


I hobbled around in the afternoon post race, had a massage and generally tried to do very little. I wisely decided to take a week of rest from structured training to aid recovery. In this week I exercised at low intensity and only when I chose to do so. I was adamant that I wouldn’t run during the week as I could easily substitute running for cycling. The beauty of cycling over running is that running has high impact loading on the body and cycling very little, so you are able to cycle almost immediately after a large race effort. This didn’t stop me from testing to see when my body was able to run. Monday, the day after the marathon it was back to work and I could barely put on my shoes unassisted let alone even attempt to run. Tuesday I could shuffle, badly with poor technique and for a short distance. Wednesday I could jog and whilst I was still fatigued I could hold a good technique. In any case I did not attempt a proper easy run until the following Monday, one week after the marathon. The high fatigued muscle groups soon become heavy and sore. It will be at least another two weeks for my body to recover to a point where I do not see reduced performances during training and increased muscular fatigue. This is very reasonable and ok.

My ideal marathon debut was sub 2:30:00. Whilst I was over my goal time I recognise the conditions, course and race tactics on the day affected this goal. I look back at my race data knowing I could not have run any harder. Given this and my focus to the 2016 World Powerman Championship in September I am very happy with my result. The race experience I gained on the day both from the physiological and mental aspects will aid my duathlon races for the remainder of my sporting career. When I choose to run another marathon in the future, I know I will be ready to improve on my maiden performance.


Thomas Bruins is an elite Duathlete and member of Saucony Hurricanes team. Keep up with Thomas on Instagram or Strava

If you liked this article be sure to read Thomas’ Post on Marathon Preparation