Allowing your body to recover properly from a marathon is equally as important as the months of training prior to the race. By not recovering properly, you increase your risk of injury and the length of time it will take to get back to normal. During a race, your muscles, hormones, and basically every psychological system are pushed to the limit. Marathon runners who immediately jump back into racing and training after a marathon often suffer from overtraining symptoms, including higher resting heart rate, moodiness and disturbed sleep patterns. These post-race issues can be avoided by giving your body the proper care and time.
Here are some quick tips on how to recover from a marathon:
Immediately after the race
- Your body will likely become very cold so it is important to follow race organizers instructions to add layers of clothing or wrap up in something warm.
- Try to find something to eat like bananas, energy bars, fruit, and sports drinks. These are provided at the finish line.
- Absolutely no running.
- During this time it is important to not strain your muscles.
- Soak in a warm bath or a hot tub for 10-15 minutes and stretch afterwards.
- Consume lots of carbohydrates, fruits and protein.
- Very limited running, only 2 to 4 miles a day.
- Continue to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
- Contrast hot and cold baths. Spend 5 minutes completely submerged in a cold bath and then switch to a hot bath for 5 minutes. Repeat this process 2 to 3 times each day.
- Continue running a very limited amount of 4 to 8 miles a day.
- Slowly begin to build your training back up.
- Try to not schedule another marathon race until at least 6 weeks after your last one.
- Listen to your body as you get back into to training and be patient with your higher level workouts.
- Allow 2 to 3 weeks of good training before performing intense workouts.