Preparing for a Spring or Fall marathon? Well, here are a few suggestions to help speed your recovery and enhance your marathon experience. These work equally as well during and following your longer weekend running training sessions too. So let’s get started!
- Do Hydrate. Sounds pretty obvious right? But even after 35 years as a competitive distance runner and coach, it always surprises me how many new endurance athletes do not follow up on this as completely as they should and wind up chronically dehydated in the days following their marathon event which will slow post-marathon recovery. Water is OK, but 8-12 ounces of sports drink several times per day will help to replace the electrolytes lost through perspiring during your event.
- Do post-marathon walks or light running. Ever see those runners/power walkers who are still at it AFTER the event is over? Well, there is reason for that. Light cardio activity after your event will help to ease the transition back to less intense activity and flush out lots of the lactic acid that built up in your muscles during your long training session or marathon event. This will help reduce post-activity stiffness and soreness.
- Do Treat yourself to a Massage. This goes hand-in-hand with Tip #2. This will also significantly reduce your post-activity stiffness and soreness. If frequent massage therapy is out of reach budget wise for you, then I would suggest you get over to a running specialty store (or check online) and invest in a neat little inexpensive training recovery tool call the stick which works great for self-massage treatments.
- Stretch, stretch stretch! Along with Running Tips #2 & #3, stretching in the days following a tough longer training session or marathon will also help to reduce post-activity soreness and restore comfortable muscular range of motion (ROM). To maximize the benefits of your stretching sessions, I would suggest picking up a stretching strap and also investing in Jim Anderson’s Complete Book of Stretching. Jim’s book is in like it’s millionth reprint or so now and has been a very valuable training tool both for myself and my fitness and marathon training clients.
- Do Treat yourself to a Special Post-marathon Meal. Hey, you deserve it! You worked hard, sacrificed and put in the time and the miles. And now as they say, “it’s Miller time!” Everyone has a different take on what this treat should be. I once trained a married couple who completed several of my Marathon Training Courses and for them, their big post-marathon treat was splurging at their favorite Steak House. For me, my post-marathon splurge is much simpler, and a whole lot less expensive. It’s just me and a whole box, yes 12 big, beautiful Krispy Kreme Donuts! Other than post-marathon time, I never touch donuts, so I take this opportunity to go for it and enjoy. And then afterwards, as I tell my clients, it’s time to get back to normal again. But please, don’t deprive yourself of this indulgence. You will also be surprised how well just the thought of your big post-marathon treat will carry you along during those last few tough miles of your marathon event!
- Do focus on eating a post-marathon combination of complex and simple carbohydrates as well as lean sources of protein. Once you have completed your big treat event per Tip #5, it’s time to begin replenishing depleted glycogen stores and initiate muscle repair. Try to limit refined sugars. I also incorporate several protein and fruit smoothie drinks into my daily post-marathon recovery meal plan. I”M HERE TO HELP! I would be glad to recommend several high quality protein powder shake mixes for you to try.
- Do take a daily multi-vitamin rich in Zinc and Vitamin E. These two micro nutrients help to speed healing and recovery.
- Do cross training activities. When you resume with your training, taking a break from your core activity (running/walking) or at least limiting these activities, can be refreshing for you both physically and psychologially. Why not try working in some cycling or swimmming? Both of these training modalities lessen the pounding on your body and reduce the possibilities for injury and help alleviate training burnout.
- Finally, do plan on recovering for no less than 2-3 weeks following your marathon event. The length of this recovery is definately in keeping with your fitness level prior to the event and your event level of intensity. Avoid the temptation put in front of you with all those plentiful post-marathon race forms tables! Remember, you may feel fine a few days after your event, but your body and muscle fibers are still recovering at the cellular level
In advance, CONGRATULATIONS on completing your marathon event! During your training and your marathon event, you may want to keep in mind a quote that has carried me through many tough marathon events to the finish line: “God has given me the ability, the rest is up to me. Believe. Believe. Believe.” - Billy Mills, 10,000 meters Gold Medalist, 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Best wishes for smooth running!