Marathon Recovery "Do's and Don't's" from Marathon Recovery "Do's and Don't's"
Marathon Recovery "Do's and Don't's"
Don’t hit the track right away
Not allowing for adequate rest time is biggest mistake Dr. Gallucci says he sees in patients. “Too much stress and no rest results in overload and ultimately breakdown.” In most cases this breakdown of the body’s supporting structures can be attributed to the utilization or over-utilization of the same body parts over and over again (i.e. running) until an injury appears, he adds. “This process in combination with not allowing time for sufficient rest will eventually lead to the fatigue and failure of the body’s muscle, tendons, ligaments and bones.”
Do listen to your body
“No one knows your body better than you which is why it is very important that you listen to your body and the clues it is giving you!” Dr. Gallucci says. “If you are noticing a nagging injury that just doesn’t seem to be going away, are feeling sluggish or extremely tired, or are no longer improving or surpassing your PR’s, it is a good sign that your body needs time to rest and recover.”
Don’t be afraid your fitness level will be hurt
“Runners, especially those who participate in full or half marathons, need to be reminded that taking a few days to a week off to rest and recover will not hurt their fitness level and will instead aid in injury prevention,” Dr. Gallucci says. “Following intense or prolonged training periods the body needs time to repair the tissues that have broken down and replace the nutrients that were lost in order to prepare for the next training session.”
Do keep moving
Immediately following a race it is important to plan some days to allow your body to rest and recover, Dr. Gallucci says. “Going for short, brisk walks, swimming, playing outside with your kids and taking that yoga class you have been dying to try are all great ways to get your blood pumping and body moving without placing too much stress on it.”
Do get a massage
“If you are 2-3 days out from finishing those 26.2 miles and you are still feeling that muscle soreness it is now time to schedule that massage you have been dreaming of,” Dr. Gallucci says. “Do remember though to make sure your massage therapist has a sports massage certification as to ensure a proper massage for this occasion.” If you are feeling like you deserve a massage following the race, be sure to wait until you are completely cooled down, he adds. Immediately following a race, when the body’s muscles are in a broken down state, the wrong type of massage can do more harm than help, he says. “A deep tissue massage is definitely not advised but a gentle massage will not only feel good but may help you to relax following your race.”
Don’t spend your days couch surfing
“Although it is in our human nature to sit around when we are sore, achy and exhausted, we must remember to get up and move around,” Dr. Gallucci says. Getting up and getting the blood flowing will help reduce that achy feeling. “Consider going for shorter walks or an easy bike ride in the 2-3 days following your race.” If you must return to work and are stuck behind your desk all day, remember to get up and walk around a few times throughout the day to eliminate the muscle stiffness, he adds.
Do slowly work back into your routine
“By week 2 most runners are itching to get back to their normal training schedule, and there is nothing wrong with this as long as they allowed for adequate rest time and are feeling healthy!” Dr. Galluci says. Putting stress on the body when it is not ready to perform will only lead to injury and more time sitting out due to injuries, he adds.
Do plan your next goal
What are my goals? This is a question you should ask yourself before running again, Dr. Gallucci says. “Training for a marathon takes a lot of planning and is a major goal that a runner works toward for a while. After crossing that finish line and spending ample time recovering it is important to discover why one wants to take up running again.” Is it just for fun? For daily exercise? Or, do they have another race? “Whatever the answer, having a goal and sticking to a plan can better prepare the person for their path ahead and can ultimately help prevent injuries from occurring,” he adds.
Do find a beverage with electrolytes
After something as strenuous as a marathon, it is also advisable to find a beverage with electrolytes such as a sports drink (i.e. Gatorade) to help replace those that were lost through sweat, Dr. Gallucci says.
Don’t drink it all the time
However, drink these in moderation and only during that 30-60 minute window following the race as these drinks normally have high sugar content and excess sugar in your diet is not necessary at this point, Dr. Gallucci says.
Do drink a lot of water
“Our bodies crave water!” Dr. Gallucci says. “This becomes especially true during periods of high intensity activity or extended heat exposure.” Water consumption should begin 72 hours before activity by drinking six to eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day, he adds. “During activity, one should drink six ounces of fluid (preferably water) every 15 minutes and should then rehydrate following activity with 32 ounces of liquid per 1 pound of fluid loss.”
Don’t stretch right after a race
Stretching is great but Dr. Gallucci would recommend refraining from static stretching immediately following a long race. “It has been long debated whether or not runners should stretch following the race but, regardless of the experts individual opinions on stretching, nearly all of them agree that stretching a fatigued muscle is not a great idea due to the potential for over stretching and causing muscle cramps, strains and further tissue damage.”
Do take an ice bath
“Following your race, when you arrive back home or to your hotel room, consider jumping into an ice bath with your lower body submerged for about 15 minutes,” Dr. Gallucci says. “Ice is great for muscle soreness and inflammation that will aid in your healing process and will leave your lower body feeling refreshed.”
Don’t eat huge meals
“Immediately following a race you shouldn’t be looking for a huge meal, but rather a couple of snacks in the first 30 minutes following the race with good nutritional value that will help to replenish the depleted muscle fuel stores and will aid in beginning to repair the damaged soft tissues,” Dr. Gallucci says. Examples such as an energy or protein bar, banana or other fruit, nuts, bagels, and sports drinks.
Do add healthy proteins in your diet
After you finished the race and enjoyed your celebration meal later that night, it is important to remember to incorporate healthy protein options into your diet, Dr. Gallucci says. “Protein is important for the restoration of muscle fibers following the breakdown that occurs with strenuous exercise.” First-choice protein sources include lean meats, such as fat-trimmed beef or pork, chicken, white tuna in water and non-fried seafood, he adds. Second choice sources will come from dairy, nuts and seeds, and include milk, soy milk, yogurt, beans, peas, lentils, soy foods and peanut butter.
Don’t be sad
A commonly overlooked part of healing is the psychological healing following a marathon, Dr. Gallucci says. “Due to the amount of time spent training for a marathon many runners will develop a physical and psychological addiction to training and exercise.” A feeling of sadness or depression can set in following the race when they realize they reached their goal or while they are taking some time off to let their bodies heal, he adds. “A few ways to come down from that ‘runner’s high’ is to set a new goal and plan your path and to keep active in other ways such as walking, biking or other types of exercise.”