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Life after the marathon

I didn’t get to watch the marathon yesterday, but I did see the requisite Gatorade detritus on the side of Comm Ave as I drove back into town after a weekend away. For all of you out there recovering, congratulations and good luck. Adam Thomas from the Bouvé College of Health Sciences has a few words of wisdom for taking care of yourself these next few days. And for the rest of you, who like me may be wondering what in the world drives a person to complete a twenty six point two mile run, scroll down to read a bit from psychology professor David DeSteno.


“It is important after you finish running the marathon to not stop and sit right away.  Walking a little and doing some light stretching after the race, can help wonders in recovery.  I recommend the day after the race, getting on a stationary bike or in a pool for 20-30 minutes to work lactic acid out of your muscles.  Moving around a lot the next day is crucial to proper recovery.  Stretching your legs (Hamstrings, quads, gluts, hip flexors, calves, etc) is very important, hence getting up and walking around especially if you have to sit at a desk all day).  Also don’t neglect your arms, stretching them and moving them around is equally as important and usually ignored because the legs ‘hurt’ a bit more!  Get a short (2-3 mile) run in about 2-3 days post marathon, and it should be slow and comfortable – a nice jog to get the muscles working again!”
— Adam Thomas, Clinical Instructor, Department of Athletic Training


“One simple question often lurks in the minds of the people watching the runners of the Boston Marathon from the sidelines:  Why?

“It’s a good question, and a fairly basic one at that.  What makes any of us persevere at a task that, although difficult in the moment, can pay dividends in the long run?  Research from our lab has identified one important part of the equation – pride.  As emotions go, pride has a bit of a bad rap.  It usually makes us think of people who are “posers” – people who think they have some special quality but don’t.  It’s certainly true that pride (often termed hubris in such cases) can lead to a downfall, but if pride’s so deleterious, then why do our minds engage in it?  The simple answer is that pride can be very adaptive.  Our work has shown that it motivates people to accept difficulties in the short-term for greater benefits (including recognition by valued others) in the long run.  Unlike simple feelings of happiness, which make people want to keep the good feeling going by avoiding any difficult decisions or tasks, pride gets us up off the couch and makes us willing to accept pain for subsequent gain.  That nature of that gain, of course, can be very different for different people.  For some, it’s finishing in a record time; for others, it’s just finishing at all.  But the sense of pride people feel as they train, and the rush of it that comes as they approach their goal, serve as the mind’s fuel to propel them up Heartbreak Hill.”

— David DeSteno, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Photo: Plutor, “2012 Boston Marathon” April 16, 2012 via Flickr. Creative Commons attribution.

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