So you have finished that 26.2 miles run and lived to tell the tale! Well, Congratulations! Pat yourself on the back. You have completed a marvellous deed. Now it’s time to focus on how to recover after a marathon!
After you have crossed that finish line, your body is going to start asking from you a well-deserved payment for the effort and trauma – yes, trauma -, it went through. And it’s best to listen and give the body what it wants.
You have to understand that by the end of this 26.2-mile run, your body will feel drained, exhausted, and immunocompromised. So you have to be gentle and patient with it for the next days!
In this article, we are going to tell you step by step, how to recover after a Marathon.
Table of Contents
What to do right after finishing the marathon?
It’s not an exact science, and each body reacts differently to the given conditions. There are some fundamental steps that a runner has to do so the healing process can begin smoothly.
The first thing is: stop steadily, turkey!
Your body has been working for a couple of hours; your heart rate, breathing, and blood circulation are working like crazy. So, try to keep your body moving until you have stabilized your vitals.
Second is, EAT AND HYDRATE!
I bet the last thing you would want after all that running is shoving anything down but liquids. But it is crucial that you do, to avoid passing out.
We recommend eating 200 – 300 calorie snacks that contain protein, fats, and carbohydrates. It could be anything from potato chips to an energy bar. You will feel the life coming back to your body almost immediately.
Hydration is key. At first, you’ll want to drink a whole sea to calm your thirst, but be careful. Don’t drink too much too fast. Take little sips a few minutes apart, so your body has time to take it all in.
We recommend to drink water or sports drink charged with electrolytes to give back the sodium to your body, lost from sweat,
Some adventurers might drink a beer right after to celebrate! Well, that is a way to get some liquids in. But it is not ideal because alcohol dehydrates the body. And that is just the opposite of what we want.
And last, CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES!
You will want to change into dry clothes and comfortable shoes after that long run. Your body is going to appreciate it.
What to do on the night after a Marathon?
From now until full recovery, everything you do with your body has to be gentle and low impact to avoid injury. So, basic stretches focused on your legs and the lower back area will help with the tension in your muscles. Do not overdo it. Listen to your body.
There is a lot of discussion on whether a hot bath or a cold bath is best for recovering after a marathon.
Hot water indeed helps relaxing the muscles and vasodilator. However, studies have found that a quick – no more than 15 minutes -, cold bath is the way to go for a faster recovery.
As it causes blood vessels to narrow down, thus reducing inflammation and muscle pain afterward.
Sock on and put them up
After the shower, it is recommended to put on a pair of compression socks to keep that blood flow in your legs going.
And give yourself time to chill and put your legs up the wall, so they have a much needed and deserved rest.
Have a Big Meal!
Surely, by now, you should be feeling very hungry. Now that your body is stabilized, it’s time to give it the nutrients; it is desperately in need of.
Your marathon recovery food should consist of a 4:1 ration of carbohydrates over proteins, four grams of carbs per 1 gram of protein. Accompanied by some healthy fats like avocados and olive oil.
The most essential step on How to recover after a Marathon is to sleep. When we are sleeping, the body starts working on the damage we have done to it throughout the day. And after a marathon… Let’s just say it has a lot of work to do. So give it the time it needs!
It is recommended to avoid going back to regular life the very next day after a marathon. Take it easy and give yourself time to relax!
You even might want to take several naps the next day. Take them; that is your body asking for more time to recover.
The fastest way to fully recover after a marathon is – believe it or not -, being patient. Don’t start running like your body hasn’t gone through an extra demanding task!
Look at it this way, your body is exhausted, your legs will not perform as well, and your immune system will be weak for at least a week after the marathon. So the injury probability is quite high! If you injure yourself, your marathon recovery time will be as twice as long.
So, why risk it?
The recommended time for recovery after a marathon is a day per mile run. So if a marathon is 26.2 miles, your recovering time should be 26 days.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to move and be confined in a couch for that long!
When you are ready, start by massaging your sore muscles with a roller and gently stretching them, so they won’t go numb.
Then start back training with low impact activities like swimming or cycling. And gradually go from regular walking, light jogging before going back to running.
But above all – and we cannot stress this enough -, the key is to listen to your body and don’t force it! You’ll know precisely How to recover after a Marathon if you just pay attention to what your body is asking of you.