We are all quite familiar with recovering after a workout and this is the same emphasis you should give post marathon recovery. The intensity of the race, the elements, your health, and the training season are all factors that can influence your recuperation. A good workout regimen will aid in the regeneration of injured muscle fibers and prepare you for the next one.
According to a study, running a marathon causes severe muscle, cellular, and immune system damage for 3-14 days after the event. As a result, all marathon runners must have a two- to three-week recovery after marathon period as rest and rejuvenation of these physiological systems are greatly emphasized if the body is to continue functioning as normal(1).
At the finish line, active recuperation begins. Considering your pulse rate will be heightened during the race and lactic acid will build up in your muscles, what you do right after can make a difference. This is why post marathon recovery is a critical aspect of a runner’s life.
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How to Get Back to Normal and How to Recover
Keep walking after the race as walking causes your heart rate to progressively decrease, your circulation to return to a resting condition, and lactic acid to be flushed from your muscles. 10 to 15 minutes of walking will do the trick increasing blood flow, which helps to clear exercise byproducts from your muscles and bloodstream.
Fluid replacement and eating the right foods is also important and you should aim to refuel no later than 30 minutes after finishing the race. It's best to consume 200 to 300 easily digestible calories from carbohydrates and protein soon after the race to maintain blood sugar levels, replenish muscle glycogen, and repair muscle tissue (2). Drink a liter of liquid for every kilogram of weight lost after a run, per the golden rule. Additionally, drinking pure, raw, unpasteurized coconut water, which is high in electrolytes, is a fantastic way to replenish.
Changing into warm, dry clothing improves circulation and aids recuperation by moving blood and nutrients through your body more quickly. Wearing a leg compression massager like SPRYNG™ after a marathon is also a good idea as it speeds up muscle recovery through Active & Smart Compression.
Last but not least, don't forget to stretch. Even just 5 to 10 minutes of static stretches focused on muscle areas like the hamstrings, piriformis, hip flexors, and low back will help you feel loose and powerful the next time you lace up your shoes, reducing post-run weariness and improving flexibility.
An Hour After
An ice bath recovery is a great method for reducing inflammation that has reached elevated levels throughout your body. Taking an ice bath helps to recover minor breaks in muscle fibers that occur after a strenuous physical activity. The ice bath is said to constrict blood vessels, drain waste products out of the body, and minimize edema and tissue disintegration. According to some research, taking an ice bath one day and a warm bath the next is good.
The Evening After
The evening following the marathon is a good time to listen to your body and assess how everything is feeling, making sure there's nothing out of the ordinary in terms of pain. It's normal to feel a little sore. Getting enough sleep is important because your body is healing muscle damage and moving toxins out of your system.
The Day After
Cross-train, have a massage, go for a slow walk, stretch or perform yoga. Tom Holland, exercise physiologist, sports nutritionist, coach, and author of The Marathon Method, states that "biking, swimming, and yoga can enhance blood flow, which can assist lessen sensations of pain, prevent muscles from stiffening, and speed up the recovery process." (3)
When you think of the best post marathon recovery, think of 'The Four R's':
- Rest -Getting enough sleep; muscle healing happens while you're sleeping.
- Rehydrate - Drink regularly throughout the day to replenish fluid losses.
- Repair – It's critical to consume 20 grams of protein right after a marathon to begin muscle recovery.
- Refuel - Choose carbs to restore energy. A minimum of 1 gram per kilogram of bodyweight is a decent general guideline.
Recovery After Half Marathon and Full Marathon
Try this four-week approach from Runner's World for guidance (4):
- Week 1: Cross-train, rest, and test the waters.
Spend the first week with short, low-impact cross-training activities to improve circulation, warm your muscles, and aid in the healing process (think: walking, cycling, swimming, or yoga). If everything seems good later that week, go for a brief, easy-effort run (30 minutes) to see how things are going.
- Week 2: Run short and easy.
If the pain persists, continue cross-training and wait for it to subside. If you're feeling good, resume your regular running schedule in week two, but keep the effort low and the distance short (30 to 60 minutes).
- Week 3: Run longer and a little faster.
In week 3, if things are still going well and your body is feeling good, gradually increase distance and intensity.
- Week 4: Return to regular volume or training.
If you feel well, you can return to your pre-marathon plan now that you've gradually gotten your body back into a regular running habit. If you're competing in numerous races in a season, it's critical to budget for adequate recovery time.
Running a marathon is a physically demanding workout. Training and bettering yourself in preparation for it is only half the battle because while running a marathon your body takes a beating. Following the guidance above, you can be sure that your post marathon recovery is also covered enabling you to run marathon after marathon without even the slightest in the way of issues.
- Marathon Recovery - How to Recover after a Marathon (runnersconnect.net)
- Recovery After Running a Marathon (verywellfit.com)