A Step-by-Step Guide for a Speedy Marathon Recovery
Learn how to recover fast from long races and skip the weeks of aches and pains
Co-author of the best selling Marathoning for Mortals and the newly released Running for Mortals.
Post race recovery begins the minute you cross the finish line. Sure, you’ll recover post-race regardless of what you do, but did you know there is a short window of opportunity to affect the speed at which this happens? And the faster you recover, the sooner you’ll get back into your running program. Follow this Step-by-Step Guide post race and you’ll be well on your way to a speedy recovery.
THE BIG 7
1. Keep walking post race.
Cross the finish line with a smile on your face (even if you don’t feel happy), get your photo taken, your medal and keep walking for at least 10 minutes to allow your body to gradually return to its normal resting state. Stopping abruptly at the finish shocks the system and encourages muscle lock-up, blood pooling in your legs and dizziness.
2. Eat within 30-minutes of finishing the race.
Refuel depleted muscles as soon as possible with a meal that includes a 3-4:1 ratio of carbohydrates-to-protein and sodium as well. Studies have shown that fuel is most readily absorbed in the muscles in the first 30 to 45 minutes post-race. Pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, banana or a recovery sports drink in your gear bag. A good ole can of V-8 or chocolate milk works well too.
3. Pack Moji to Go in your gear bag and wear a Moji while you cool down.
It is a convenient, easy-to-use strategy for decreasing post-race inflammation and aches and pains around your knees.
4. Reward yourself, and schedule a massage.
But wait at least two hours post race, as massage too soon to the finish can create more soreness. Massage can have a dramatic effect on post-race recovery times, and they are a wonderful way to celebrate your achievement.
5. Sip fluids throughout the day to replenish fluid losses.
Monitor your urine for adequate hydration levels. If your urine is pale yellow like lemonade, you’re most likely back to normal hydration levels. If it runs dark, continue to hydrate. If it is clear, hold off on fluids as you may be over hydrating. Continue to replenish fuel and electrolytes (sodium, potassium) by eating small, frequent meals throughout the day.
6. Take some time off running.
Actively rest with lower impact activities like swimming, cycling and yoga for 5-7 days post-race. Give your body and mind a week off the demands of a structured long distance training program, and it will reward you with an efficient recovery. Running too much, too soon post-marathon is the quickest way to an injury. It can take about
7. Follow a reverse taper for 3-4 weeks.
Depending on how hard you raced, your age, and your training, it can take anywhere from 3-4 weeks to full recovery post marathon. Gradually return to running with a few short and easy runs 6-10 days post marathon to test the waters. If things feel good, gradually increase the duration and frequency and listen to your body along the way. If it talks to you with aches and pains, take a few more days to cross-train.