In our last post we talked about how to prepare for a marathon, but what about after you’ve crossed the finish line? Recovering from a marathon properly could mean the difference between looking back fondly on the event, and regretting ever having run a marathon. 26.2 miles is no easy feat, and your body needs to properly recover immediately following a marathon, as well as in the following days and weeks while you get back to regular training.
What to do Immediately After a Marathon
Once you’re done with your initial celebration, make sure to start hydrating. Drinking water right away seems obvious, but in your post-marathon euphoria, you might underestimate the amount of stress you have just put your body through. This is especially important later when the real celebration starts and alcoholic beverages come into play.
You’ll also want to grab some carb and protein-heavy snacks—protein bars, protein shakes and recovery sports drinks are all great for kick-starting the recovery period. Also don’t wait too long to eat a real meal afterwards, you’ll need the solid food for your recovery.
What not to do: Sit down immediately after the race. There’s a good chance you will cramp up immediately, so walk around a bit and let your body adjust slowly while you sip on some water.
What to do in Weeks Following a Marathon
For about a week after a race, you should simply rest. Your body has just experienced incredible stress, so taking it easy will be the only way your body can recover. Be sure to eat healthily and continue drinking water, especially in the first few days following the marathon. Going for a light walk will help get some blood flowing and loosen your muscles, and a gentle massage or hot tub session will help with the soreness.
After a week or so you should be able to go on a light jog, but you still shouldn’t be doing any serious running. If you’re still too tired for a jog, try jumping on an exercise bike or going for a swim, both of which will have less impact on your muscles than running. The key is to listen to your body—if you’re too sore or too tired to run, don’t force it. This will only increase your chances of getting injured, which will delay your training for the next race.
Once you feel back to normal, it’s important to ease into training at a gradual pace. Again, listen to your body. About a month after the race, you should be able to start getting back into normal workouts and begin planning your next marathon!
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