Recovering From Running A Marathon
As marathon season hits its peak, we look at the things you must do to aid recovery from your race.
Be patient! You need to rest, or at least do active recovery, for longer than you’d think after a marathon. Keep the blood flowing, the lymphatic system draining and the toxins working their way through your body, but don’t put your hard-worked legs under extra strain. They are working hard to repair and recover.
Massage, Stretch, Foam Roll
Consider booking in for a (gentle) restorative massage after your marathon. Be sure to tell the therapist when you ran your race so he or she can go gently and flush toxins through rather than digging too deeply and causing any further damage to muscle fibres. There’s plenty you can do at home, too: foam rolling and stretching will help your entire body recover more quickly. Pay attention to your quads, hamstrings, calves, adductors, abductors and IT bands but don’t forget to also massage and stretch your glutes, lower back and mid/upper back.
Eat (and drink) For Recovery
Don’t underestimate how much you can help the recovery process after your marathon with nutrition. Eat little and often, making sure you take in moderate amounts of carbohydrates (preferably from unprocessed sources, like potatoes, rice, quinoa and oats rather than pasta, breads and baked goods) and plenty of protein (good quality poultry, red meat, fish, seafood, eggs, pulses and dairy). Stock up on fresh vegetables, fruit and salad to flood your body with vitamins and micronutrients. Don’t forget healthy fats to help repair joints and connective tissue (oily fish, nuts, seeds, whole eggs, nut butters and avocados are good choices). And drink plenty of water, with added electrolytes if you are suffering from cramps.
Ease Back Into Training
We understand the feeling: you’re keen to get back to running, after all you’re on an all-time high after finishing your marathon! But please take it easy. If you feel the need to get out in the first 7-10 days, walk or powerwalk. After 10 days, reintroduce running but take it easy and listen to your body. If you’re carrying any kind of injury or weakness after your marathon, get it seen to by a physic or other therapist and follow their advice. Cross-training will be your saviour in the weeks after your marathon: try swimming, cycling and walking to get your endorphin hit and to keep active without giving your legs any more of a pounding.