This Sunday, 26.2 miles after setting off from the start line in Greenwich, thousands of marathon runners will find themselves flying, plodding, or stumbling down The Mall to the finish line. With the run done and dusted, it’s time for celebration. But before you shuffle off to the pub and install yourself on the sofa, heed these recovery tips.
The training, the finish line and the week after a marathon are the make or break of your short and longer term recovery.
Food and drink
Although you may not feel hungry, for obvious reasons, get eating! Within 30 minutes of crossing the finish line, you should be replenishing with both protein and carbohydrates to help recovery and energy restoration respectively. Waiting until you get to the pub is too late for optimal recovery aids. Although the finish line goodie bags have snacks and water, be prepared and pack some extra food and water into your bag so you can refuel at the bag pickup. A protein and carb shake ticks the box for easily digestible nutrition. An orange or banana is a good place to start too.
Take on water as soon as possible. Slow and steady sipping for a few hours after finishing should make headway in replacing 26.2 miles worth of sweating.
These can help to give your body back the salts and minerals it has lost over the last few hours.
Go easy on the alcohol
Be proud and celebrate but remember the stress you’ve put on your body and the need to rehydrate. Alcohol will dent your recovery so have a glass but try to get your body back on track with water to flush out the system. You’ll have a natural endorphin high anyway.
Eat wholesome meals
For the week after the marathon stay focused on wholesome foods. They provide the nutrients your body needs to get back to normal. Avoid sugars and refined simple carbs (white bread and pasta). Focus on whole grains, protein and vegetables
Avoid sitting down for too long
Although the temptation is to crash out and rest your weary body, hold off on sitting down. You’ll start seizing up and there’s no going back from there. Keep walking and if you can, do a slow set of squats and lunges.
Stretching helps get your body back to normal. Your calves, hip flexors, hamstrings, lower back and shoulders will likely stiffen up so focus on those. Yoga, particularly downward dog, is great for post marathon recovery.
Deep Tissue Massage
Swimming stretches out muscles and gets circulation going which helps blood get to the muscles that need it. As swimming is low impact, it will provide a welcome relief – hang out in the slow lane and make the most of any jacuzzis or saunas.
Don’t go cold turkey on running
In the first week after the marathon try go for a short, slow run. Without a training schedule, turn your data off and reconnect with running without the need to cover distances and aim for targets.
Most of all, relish in the satisfaction of having run a marathon. Finishing a marathon is a state of mind that says anything is possible. Go do it!