Running a marathon is a fantastic achievement – the pinnacle for the 10 million or so people in the UK who class themselves as runners. But, it’s also an exhausting experience. It takes months of preparation to be ready, physically and mentally, for the challenge but it also takes time afterwards to recover when you’ve crossed the line having given it your all.
So, how do you ensure that you can recover from a marathon? Here’s five key things to keep in mind:
Ice, ice baby
In the immediate aftermath of a marathon, you need to get warm and replenish your depleted energy levels with food and drink. However, once this is done, you might wish to consider an ice bath. These are fairly commonly used by athletes and don’t have to be as bad as they sound (water at 55-60F or 12-15C should work). A 10 to 15 minute dip should encourage your blood to blow and avoid lactic acid building up in your muscles. When this is done, it’s time for some serious rest.
Take some time out of your routine…
In the build-up to a marathon it’s likely that you’ll have a strict and busy fitness regime on the go. While it might now be second nature to you to be up at an ungodly hour. Don’t feel that you have to carry this on straight away. Plan ahead to have a reduced programme and ease yourself back into activity gently.
…and take some time off work
Speaking of which, try to book some time off work for the immediate day or two after your marathon. It’s really important to get some rest – and that’s from a mental as well as a physical perspective. Sitting at a desk all day won’t be great for your physical recovery – and churning out reports won’t be much help for your mental recovery either. Save yourself a treat – maybe that bestseller that has been untouched on the bookshelf or the latest box set blockbuster so that your spirits don’t suffer now that you’re no longer gearing yourself up for the big run.
Get the balance right with your food and drink
While we’ve already touched on the importance of re-fuelling after a race – with the average marathon runner burning 2,000 calories in a race – it’s also important to keep your body well-nourished in the days after the race as your body settles down. The post-marathon diet needs to be rich in protein – and that might mean supplementing your intake with the sorts of products offered by Fysiqal Nutrition to get the balance right.
Massage those muscles
You need to do all you can to help your muscles recover from the intensity of a marathon and a massage can help, provided you leave it a couple of days. Bupa Sports Massage Therapist Leah Rollins told Lunges and Lycra: “In the first few days I’d advise some gentle stretching and long baths to help ease out some of the soreness. Around three to five days after the event, once the majority of the muscle damage and inflammation has died down, schedule in a deep-tissue massage. This can help flush out toxins and improve blood flow to the muscles.”