What you do the first few minutes, hours or even days after a marathon is as essential to what you do to prepare for your marathon. This post-race period is critical to your recovery and to the progress of your subsequent running regimen.
Marathon recovery can take several weeks or perhaps several months depending on the intensity of your race and your recovery strategy.
Here are some helpful tips on what to do after the marathon to recover:
1. Slow down after the finish line. Once you cross the finish line, slow down to a jog then keep walking for at least 10 minutes. Allow some time for your heart rate and blood flow to return to its normal state.
2. Eat well throughout the day. After your marathon, refuel your muscles with a meal that includes carbohydrates, protein and sodium. If you still have a hard time eating after the marathon, recovery drinks work well, too. Continue to hydrate yourself and take small frequent meals.
3. Have a cool shower. A few hours after your race, soak in a tub with lukewarm water and ice or a lukewarm shower is good. This will aid in decreasing inflammation. Do not take a hot shower because heat will interfere with your marathon recovery. Try and ice bath. [See the video on how to have an ice bath for recovery]
4. Have a break. Your top priority after your big race is to relax and sleep for longer hours but it shouldn’t mean a complete bed rest. Schedule a massage or yoga.
5. Engage in gentle activities. Your feet will feel sore after your marathon so an easy walking the next day will do. Days after your marathon, engage in light exercises like cycling or swimming. The intensity of cross-training should be low and the duration should be short.
6. Listen to your body. Lessen the soreness in your feet by running on grass and trails weeks after your marathon. Don’t force your body to race again if it’s not yet completely recovered. Enjoy running rather than feel obligated to follow your training routine.
7. Take your time. Recovery rates vary for each individual. You may gradually increase the intensity of your running a couple of months after your marathon but if your body feels pain, give yourself more time to heal.
Running a marathon can be stressful to your body so it is important to have a post marathon plan. Focus on recovery after your marathon so that you will be eager to keep running and join another marathon.