Running and Friendly Links
How to Recover from a Marathon
Endurance Sports Require Glycogen Replacement, Rest, and More
Regardless of whether you ran a half marathon, full marathon, or an ultramarathon, you will need to recover properly so that you can stay injury-free and get back in the game ASAP. Follow the tips below and youll be on top of your game again in no time!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Yes, you drank plenty along the course but you lost most of it. Immediately after the finish line its time to grab more fluids. You dont have to drink fast, but do drink consistently.
Water is most likely what youll find at the finish line and thats a good choice to start with. Next, you will want a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade to replace lost electrolytes.
How can you tell when are sufficiently re-hydrated? At the risk of sounding crude, when your pee is back to its normal color and not dark yellow. As you hydrate, walk around and socialize. Do not just sit; this will cause blood to pool in your legs. Walking will also help dissipate lactic acid.
Make Time for Glycogen Replacement
It is imperative to work on beefing up your glycogen within the first 30 minutes after completing the race. Glycogen is a polysaccharide that is the principal storage form of glucose in human cells.
It is stored principally in the liver and is your primary fuel during a run. Once it is depleted the body will burn fat and then muscle. Basically, you want to consume both carbohydrates and protein. Milk is the right balance but go with your preferred foods.
Take a Cold Bath
Yes, a hot shower might sound better, but you will do your muscles a bigger favor with cold water. Do you have any sore spots such as on your quadriceps of calves? Apply an ice pack periodically. Or do what I like to do—use a large bag of frozen peas.
Because of the shape and size of the peas, the bag will conform to your body and distribute the cold evenly. When you are done, just toss it back in the freezer for the next session. Whether of not you eat the peas later is up to you!
The Day Following the Marathon
Do not go for a recovery run; your muscles are still riddled with micro-tears and need some TLC. Walking around is fine. The day after my first Houston Marathon found me climbing scaffolds. Not a good idea but hey, it was my job.
Continue to eat well. You will need protein to repair your muscles. If you are a vegan go for things like red beans and quinoa. Another cold bath or lounging in a swimming pool is a very good idea.
Day Two after Your Herculean Effort
Day two is when you will experience the worse pain due to the race. Today you can begin doing some light stretching. If you are a swimmer or triathlete, some easy slow laps in the pool will work wonders.
If you can afford it, a massage is a nice treat but be sure to tell the masseuse to take it easy and dont hesitate to tell to lighten up if you run into some pain.
Day Three and Beyond
You should be feeling a lot better by now. Keep stretching and applying ice if needed. You can give yourself permission to go on a short trial recovery run but keep it easy and under three miles.
By day four you will just have to play it by ear. Everyone is different and recovers at an individual rate. Speedwork is still not in the cards but you can begin lengthening your runs.
Finally, this is an excellent time to set new goals and begin looking around for the next challenging event!
Do you have any more tips on how to recover from a marathon? Share them in the comment section below!
Recommended Related Articles
- Glycemic_Index Key to Energy and Endurance
- Curing Plantar Fasciitis
- Take the 90 Day P90X Challenge—A Review
- Basics of Ultramarathon Training
- Tim Noakes Ten Laws of Running Injuries: Law One
Website © 2010 KSmith Media, LLC; all rights reserved.