Congratulations – You Just Finished the Marathon!
What a huge accomplishment. Take some time and soak it all up! All that hard work has paid off and culminated to the moment you crossed the finish line. The past couple months of marathon training, resting, and eating has probably been dialed down to the most minute detail. But, what is your recovery plan? Marathons and the training leading up to one are extremely taxing to the body, so recovering after one takes time. Take a look at the tips below to make sure you’re recovering like a pro and don’t start pounding the pavement to soon.
Sunday (race day):
- Recovery begins immediately after you finish the race. Keep moving and start hydrating. Also, sip on a recovery drink with a high carbohydrate to protein ratio (I like Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator). For the next 24 hours frequently snack on high carb and moderate protein meals. A mild walk and light foam rolling and stretching is okay to help improve blood flow and remove toxins to initiate the body’s natural healing process. Otherwise get off your feet and rest! Elevate legs and wear compression socks if available.
- Use today as a rest day. No running or exercise of any kind. A light walk and light foam rolling and stretching is also acceptable. Active recovery will help speed healing by delivering oxygen and nutrients. Soreness will be setting in at this time but don’t pop the NSAIDs unless an injury sustained. Slowing down the inflammatory process will delay recovery. Hydrate and continue eating a high carbohydrate moderate protein diet.
Tuesday and Wednesday:
- You may be getting anxious, but still, use today as a rest day. Your soreness is most likely easing off a bit, but the fatigue is still there. Some physiologists call this “central systems fatigue.” Fighting through this fatigue will not only delay structural recovery, but also delay hormonal recovery. Continue light foam rolling, stretching and going for light walks. Hydrate and begin shifting your diet back to normal. Keep resting. You earned it!
- You’re cleared to run! Take it easy and don’t overdo it. If this is your first marathon and you consider yourself a novice runner an easy 1-2 mile run is all you need. Foam roll, stretch and hydrate afterward.
- Now you can begin adding some cross-training. Swimming, biking, weight training, and yoga are all game today. Keep the intensity level low as your body (nervous, hormonal, muscular, and skeletal systems) are now starting to return to normal. Don’t begin any exercise routines are training system you aren’t used to. An example would be if you’ve never been a Crossfitter, it is not a good idea to drop into a Crossfit workout the Friday after your marathon.
- Stick with a 2-3 mile run. Keep the pace low to moderate. By now the muscles soreness and fatigue should be gone so you may want to push yourself, but doing that may set you back in the recovery game. Keep foam rolling and stretching.
- Now you can push the pace a bit. A light to moderate hour-long run is okay at this point. Keep the intensity low. Even though you feel back to normal, physiologically your body is still in recovery mode.
The Next 2 Weeks Following the Marathon:
- Now you can slowly introduce intensity back into your workouts. But, it is important to listen to your body. During this time frame, it is better to listen to your body and lean on the side of caution. Doing too little is better than doing too much at this point.
Recovery is a slow process. But taking your time and listening to your body will be worth it in the long run. Also, remember that you can’t train through an injury. So, seeking medical attention is important if you’re still feeling pain at the end of the first week of recovery.