You’ve done it, congratulations! Next step? Your marathon recovery and 6 simple tips to help you look after yourself.
At the end of a marathon, the hard work has been done and your body will inevitably be exhausted after all the demands you’ve placed upon it. In the last of our Marathon Training series, PerformancePro running coach, Marc Brown, shares 6 simple tips to help ensure your marathon recovery is as speedy as possible.
Don’t just stop – When you cross the finish line, the initial instinct will be to just lie down and stay there forever (which is fair enough!). However, it’s a good idea to walk for 10 minutes, so that your heart rate gradually lowers and your body returns to a steady state. After the walk, find a tree or a wall and elevate your legs for 10 minutes or so, to encourage circulation and removal of fluid from the legs.
Post race nutrition – Within half hour of finishing, if you’re feeling well enough, it’s wise to take on board a small amount of easily digestible food. An energy bar, banana or a roll of some sort are good options. Also continue to sip fluids after your run to help you rehydrate. Remember to add electrolytes to water or go for a balanced sports drink.
When your appetite recovers later, celebrate with a pizza, a burger or whatever you enjoy! However, it’s important to eat balanced meals in the days following a marathon, including good sources of carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and brown rice.
Cool down – If you’re looking to be proactive with your marathon recovery, taking an ice bath (with cold water in) when you get home from the race could be a good option for you. Please note, this isn’t a particularly enjoyable experience so isn’t for everyone, but it could make the following few days more comfortable.
Plan to rest – Definitely book the day off after the marathon, if you can. This will enable you to have a well-deserved lie in and plan your meals for the day. Do whatever you enjoy to relax, but make sure you get up from time to time and move about a little to encourage circulation.
Roll it out – After a few days when the initial aches and pains have diminished, booking a massage or a thorough foam-rolling session could further boost your marathon recovery. If you receive regular massages, then by all means ask for your usual intensity. If you don’t, tell the masseur and request a lighter session.
Return to exercise slowly – If you want to exercise in the days following your race, start with a short walk before moving onto a gentle run. Your body has been under a lot of strain, so for your first light recovery run back, it can be a good idea to choose a softer surface with a bit of give. Grass or trails are ideal, but ensure you wear the appropriate footwear. If you’re not ready to run but you want to exercise, swimming is a great low impact activity.
Of course not everyone will recover at the same rate but these tips are tried and tested and will definitely help. Good luck with your upcoming race and your marathon recovery. Be sure to let us know how you get on!
If your marathon experience has given you a feel for a fitter, stronger way of life, then do the smart thing and keep up some level of strength and conditioning training over the months to come.
When you’re ready, come and see us here at PerformancePro and we can help you integrate some tailored strength and conditioning to help keep you on track for the rest of the year and beyond.
(Original article written for and posted on www.completeendurancerunning.com)