Wednesday, January 26, 2011

PMS (Post-Marathon Syndrome)

People don't like to talk about PMS - it's one of those taboo subjects that we avoid in polite conversation. But I think it's time we really take an in-depth look at this debilitating condition, as it affects so many runners like me.

Signs and Symptoms

In the first 12 to 16 hours following a marathon, symptoms are generally mild to moderate and may include fatigue, difficulty walking, and stiffness and soreness of the lower extremities. In cases involving a personal record (PR), there may also be severe smiling and excessive elation during this period, which may lessen the perceived severity of the other symptoms. From 16 to 72 hours after a marathon, symptoms often worsen and may include the following:

  • Severe muscle stiffness and soreness
  • Swollen pride
  • Inability to descend stairs
  • Inability to sit down without upper body assistance
  • Excessive medal-wearing
  • Excessive hunger
  • Strong urge to either (a) sign up for another marathon right away or (b) never run marathons ever again; occasionally the patient may fluctuate radically between the two urges.


Post-Marathon Syndrome is caused exclusively by running marathons. There are no other known causes.


If PMS is suspected based on a thorough physical examination, further testing is required to confirm the diagnosis. The most reliable test is the MRR Scan (Marathon Race Results Scan). A qualified medical professional should review the scan to determine if the patient's name is on the results list. If the patient's name does appear, the diagnosis is confirmed.


Preventing PMS involves abstaining from marathons completely. While simple in theory, this can be exceptionally difficult for many marathoners as they may have a serious addiction to marathons and shiny medals.


A patient suffering from PMS will recover more quickly if treated early. Early treatment options include stretching, massage, ice baths, and drinking beer. In some cases, consumption of chocolate chip cookies has also been shown to aid recovery. If PMS is not diagnosed until 16 hours or later following a marathon event, symptoms will be more difficult to treat. The most successful treatments at this stage of the illness are lying in a supine position on a sofa or bed, researching potential future marathons, the use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications), and drinking more beer. Additionally, purchasing professional marathon photos has also been shown to be helpful in many cases, except those in which the patient does not photograph well. In no case should the patient ever be separated from their medal. To do so could result in injury to the medical professional.


Most cases of PMS can be cleared in less than one week with proper treatment. More aggressive cases, usually brought on by running multiple marathons in rapid succession or by running ultra-marathons, may require a slightly longer recovery time. Mortality is low. PMS is often a recurring condition and it is likely that patients diagnosed with the condition will suffer from it multiple times in their lives. This chronic condition is known as Marathonitis. There is no known cure, but standard PMS treatments will be useful in managing flare-ups.

I hope you have found this educational and useful. Awareness is the key to helping those suffering from PMS. If someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of PMS, the best thing you can do is ask to see their medal and act really impressed. Remember, marathoners are people too.

Peace. Love. Train.


  1. love it, nothing like the post marathon blues

  2. This is too funny - and kind of true. Thanks for sharing!