You trained hard, you tapered and you just completed your first marathon! Now, it’s time to rest. But, what does quality rest and recovery look like? For some of us, rest comes easy, and for others, taking a significant amount of time off from running can be very challenging. Often times, post-race recovery can be tainted and it should be determined by how your marathon went. Make sure you recover from your endurance race well by following these five tips.
When you cross the finish line, good or bad race, give yourself a week to process the race. Whether it went great and you’re excited for your next race, or it was your worst nightmare, it’s best not to decide your opinion of the marathon until you’ve given yourself a few days to think about it. Enjoy the post-race festivities, kick up your feet, and enjoy food with friends. Make the most of your day and experience despite how the race went. You’ve accomplished something big and it’s worth celebrating!
2. Massage and Ice
If you traveled far for your marathon, know that you will be extremely sore on your journey home. The best way to prevent this is to take all precautions for helping your body to recover quicker. If you can get a post-race massage, it is definitely worth it for flushing out all of the junk built up in your leg muscles. Another good tip: if you are staying in a hotel, make an ice bath in the bathroom tub. While it might not sound like the most enticing idea after a race, it will make a huge difference when you get up the next day.
3. Re-fuel Right
Yes, pretty much everyone is ravenous after a marathon, but remember, if you fuel your body well, it will recover quick. Enjoy treats or your favorite beer, but make sure to get some quality protein too. Have a grass-fed burger or even a massive omelet with veggies. Your body just worked really hard for 26.2 miles, so treat it well! And, don’t forget to drink lots of fluids and electrolytes post-race, not just wine, beer and soda.
4.Take a Break
This means at least 7 to 10 days completely off, followed with a few weeks of easy running. Make sure you really rest and get your body recovered. After at least a one week break, doing some easy pool running, biking or walking, can also help speed up recovery. Just remember that it takes a long time to repair muscle damage, especially from a marathon on pavement. If you had a great marathon, it may be tempting to jump back into training and choose your next race, but remember to take it nice and slow. Your body will thank you!
Enjoy your break and relax. Turn your brain off from training for a bit. And, remember that whether or not you had a good race, your next marathon could go very differently! If you didn’t have the best day, maybe it’s a good idea to get a coach if you don’t have one, look a bit closer at your nutrition or switch up your training a bit to better prepare for your next race. Try to stay positive and move forward at your own pace. And, again, congrats on running a full marathon! That is a huge accomplishment!