Your Guide to Marathon Recovery
First things first; Congratulations! Completing a marathon is no walk in the park, so you should feel immensely proud of yourself. Now your months of training has finally been put to good use, what will your mind turn to next? When will you next start training? What will your next big event be? How will you manage to climb the office stairs?
Whatever your future plans look like, remember, don’t be too hasty!
Getting yourself recovered from a marathon is as important as the race itself, mainly so you can go about your normal life as comfortably and effectively as possible.
Here’s your agenda for the next few days to get you back on your feet and on the road to recovery:
As we said, make sure you take the time to celebrate what you have achieved - you’ve earned it. Whatever the result, completing a marathon is an amazing performance and we often forget that as we chase times. Truly, taking on this feat, let alone completing it, is incredible. You deserve a treat!
After so much running preparation, take this opportunity to try some new sports or activities such as kitesurfing, yoga or rock climbing. Maybe visit those friends and relatives you postponed seeing during the marathon training phase and start planning where your next races and challenges are going to be.
Take a set period of time to reflect on your marathon performance. Analyse and mentally log what you did well and learn from any mistakes rather than dwelling on them. It’s important to remember that you can only affect the controllable, so if the weather put a damper on your marathon performance, learn from it. Were you hydrated enough in the hot weather? Did you have the right kit for the heavy rain?
Sleep it off
Rest might seem a bit too obvious as a recommended post-race activity, but good quality sleep is underestimated in its role as a powerful recovery tool. Biologically it is the most important factor in helping your growth hormones remodel at a cellular level; vital for aiding your physical and mental recovery after the effort of the marathon. Try and get a good night’s sleep as soon after the marathon as possible. Sleep helps to regenerate the body and doesn’t happen over one night!
Healthy post marathon nutrition is vital to refuel your muscles and rebuild the damaged tissues which have been broken down during the run. 30-60 minutes after the race has ended is the ideal time to eat and drink as you’ll absorb nutrients much faster in this window. Even if your appetite hasn’t yet returned, rehydrate and try to get both some carbohydrate and protein back into your body - natural sources such as milk, yoghurt and whey protein are best.
In the few days following the marathon, keep refuelling your body with a balanced diet. The odd treat is totally fine, but make sure to get the good nutrients first. Foods that will boost your immunity such as green tea, vitamin C rich foods, and leafy green vegetables are a great choice You’ll also find antioxidants such as polyphenols in tomatoes and peppers, which are a good choice as this is when your immunity may dip and you could be susceptible to colds.
Ease back into exercise
The muscles, tendons and joints need some immediate recovery, and gentle non-impact exercise such as cycling, swimming or walking in the first three days can be beneficial. If you don’t feel too sore or achy, then a light jog on the fourth day can be the start of your reintroduction to running.
Why not try a session or two of full-body stretching and some rotational exercises? This will help bring back any lost flexibility. Yoga is a great way to experience some beneficial movement patterns that runners don’t experience while running. Or, you could even try some compression socks or leggings, which minimises the pooling of fluid in your muscle tissues and encourage normal blood flow.
If you’re looking for a way to inject some light exercise into your routine after the marathon, why not head down to your local Fitness First gym and enjoy a free workout on us with our three-day guest pass.
For more useful hints and tips on running, fitness and nutrition, head over to Inside Track for our expert advice and information.