Updated: Feb 21, 2022
Completing a marathon is a huge accomplishment and something to celebrate! Most marathoners spend a lot of time planning, training, and preparing for race day. When the hard work is over, there is still an important step left: recovery. Recovery is something a lot of runners don’t necessarily plan for, but prioritizing your recovery can help you rebound quickly.
Post-marathon recovery is more than sleeping in as long as possible the day after the race. While getting sleep is definitely important, there are a lot of other recovery factors to consider. Many variables about the race itself can affect your recovery, such as intensity, weather, your health, your training season, race prep, and your hydration and fueling practices. Everyone is different, but there are several strategies you can use to aid the recovery process.
After you cross the finish line, get your medal, take a picture, and get some fluids and fuel, it’s smart to keep walking around. You’ve just completed 26.2 miles and your body is still in marathon mode! By walking your heart rate slowly drops, the circulation returns to its resting state and flushes metabolic waste from the muscles. It’s recommended to walk for 10-15 minutes after your race to help your body return to its normal state.
Post Race Fueling
Getting a small snack with carbs, fats, and protein within 45 minutes for women and 90 minutes for men will help your body start to recover and rebuild. Easily digestible foods Save a bigger meal for later in the day when your appetite returns. If it’s a hot race day incorporate more liquids and an electrolyte supplement. If it’s a cold day, soup could be a good option to help you warm up and get some fuel. Continue to fuel and hydrate throughout the day and next couple days.
After your race, sit in a cold bath for five to ten minutes and consider wearing compression tights to aid in decreasing inflammation and speed the rate of healing. In the days after your race switching between cold and heat can also help your body recover.
Rest & Recovery Runs
It’s recommended to hold off on runs in the two weeks after a marathon to allow your body adequate time to recover. You can do some light cross training, 30-40 minute easy bouts focused on increasing blood flow to the legs, after a week of rest can be beneficial. However, it’s important to listen to your body and make sure you aren’t getting back into workouts too quickly.