Marathon Recovery Tips
We are now into the final week before Dublin City Marathon. Hopefully most of us have the miles in the legs and are now are in the process of tapering our running and are getting excited about race day. Others are apprehensive about what the days brings. The best strategy is to remain positive. Make a plan, set your goals and try and remain consistent.
Although post-race planning might feel a bit away. Stick these next points somewhere safe and make a point to review.
- If you remember just one thing after the marathon, it should be to keep moving. The worst thing to do after a marathon is to sit down immediately as your muscles can seize up and cramp.
- Staying warm should also be a top priority. Soon after the race, try to change into dry, warm clothes as soon as possible to avoid getting a chill.
- To Stretch or Not to Stretch: There is no correlation between stretching and post exercise muscle soreness. However, if you enjoy stretching then by all means do so. The general rule is that you should wait at least a few hours before stretching.
- Post-Race Fluids: A beer may sound tempting after logging in all those miles but it’s crucial you replenish your depleted glycogen stores and provide some protein to your damaged muscle fibres at least 60 minutes after the race. Have some electrolytes or a protein shake to further aid recovery. Sip these drinks continuously, rather than gulping them in one go to avoid feelings of nausea.
- Post-Race Nutrition: Big Mac Meal and a tub of ice cream might be post-marathon fuel food of dreams but in reality, they won’t do you much good when it comes to your recovery. Foods high in sodium, such as pizzas, salty chips and burgers may seem like a good idea afterwards, due to their high calorific value, however foods high in salt lower your levels of potassium, which is of far greater importance to your recovery time than salt.
- Is it worth getting a post-race massage? Wait at least 24-48 hours for a massage if you feel it’s something you’ll benefit from.
- Should you have a cold or hot shower post-marathon? There is conflicting evidence about the benefits and dangers of solely having either a hot or ice-cold bath post-exercise. Cold baths may have a temporary analgesic effect (numbing) that can help with post exercise soreness. In my opinion have a regular shower to wash off the run and don’t be too worried about hot, cold or contrast baths at this time.
- When it comes to sleep, what’s your top tip? Sleep is so important. It reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves mood. Catching ‘Zzzs’ has never been more important than following a long run. Avoid drinking excess fluids before bed and instead favour large carbohydrate and protein-heavy meals to prevent you waking up in the night with delayed onset hunger.
- ‘Mental health’, the best way to boost your mood after the initial ‘runner’s high’? Marathon recovery is mental as well and it’s important to address this alongside your physical recovery. In the weeks following the marathon, try to take part in fun activities to combat the “post-marathon slump” and give yourself time to recover. It is important to focus on the here and now, “the achievement as a whole.
- If you’re suffering from aches and pains, how should you treat them? While the body might be sore after a marathon, it’s important to remember that the marathon experience doesn’t stop the minute you cross the finish line. There is still work to be done in order to help your body mend. Return to the gym or exercise at home three to four days after the run for a light “shake out”. Work on restoring mobility through the hips, upper back and activate the trunk and postural musculature.
- What happens if your pain persists beyond a week? If you continue to experience unusual symptoms of pain soon after the marathon, it’s advisable to contact a physiotherapist.
- Is there a rule when it comes to how soon you can exercise after the marathon? Runners should be careful as to when to start exercising again. Typically, people say it takes approximately two weeks to recover from a marathon and that you should have two weeks of no running. In my experience it is down to the individual. Analyse how your body feels before rushing to test yourself too hard, too soon.
- Author: Roberto Pelosi, Clinic Owner.