Marathon Recovery Tips

Marathon Recovery Tips

Recovering from a marathon and a distance of 26.2 miles is a very important component to your perfect training plan. Unfortunately most runners often neglect marathon recovery tips and jump right back into training when the soreness is gone.

The runners high is real, we just have accomplished something so great and now we have to rest? Tapering was so boring already and now we really have to hold back even longer? Yes, this is exactly what a marathoner should do to avoid unwanted injuries.

Read my marathon recovery tips to avoid injuries after the marathon, learn how to recovery from a marathon and most importantly find out how to benefit for your long-term potential as a runner with a marathon recovery plan.

Marathon Recovery Tips: What is going on post race?

First of all if you don’t recovery properly from a marathon you will most likely experience symptoms of overtraining. Running a marathon is tough on the body. Almost every physiological system is pushed to the max during the 26.2 miles: Muscles, hormones, tendons, cells – everything is maxed out. It doesn’t even matter if you are running a Boston qualifier time, or if the race was your very first marathon. 26.2 miles is a  hell of a distance and your body has undergone tremendous physical duress. Don’t forget about the stress you have put on your body running according to your marathon training schedule.

What happens to your body after running a marathon?

We have seen the pictures where runners weren’t able to walk the stairs after running a marathon, which occurs because of intense muscle soreness and fatigue caused by running the long distance of 26.2 miles. Give your body 2 weeks post marathon to return to full strength.

The cellular damage after running a marathon which includes oxidative damage, increased production of creatinine kinase (CK) – a marker that indicates damage to skeletal and myocardial tissue, and increased myoglobin levels in the blood stream are pretty heavy on the system. So if you find blood being present in your urine post marathon, this is because of the myoglobin in the bloodstream for 3-4 days post race. Allow your body at least 7-10 days of rest post marathon to fully recover from the cellular damage caused during the race.

Your immune system is severely compromised, which increases the risk of contracting colds and the flu after running a marathon especially until 3 days after the race. Try to rest as much as possible and focus on a healthy diet with nutrient rich foods plus a lot of water.  My marathon recovery tip is to have a 2-3 week marathon recovery protocol that focuses on rest and rejuvenation of these physiological systems such as muscle, cellular, and your immune system.

Marathon Recovery Tips: Post marathon training

Here are some marathon recovery tips for the 3 weeks after your marathon. Rest smart and find your way back to training with these post marathon training tips.

Days 1-3

Running: None

Cross Training: None

Marathon Recovery Advice

  • Take a hot bath for at least 15 min, foam roll or stretch afterwards.
  • Your diet should include a lot of vitamins, carbs and proteins to help your muscle repair and boost your immune system.
  • Massage the legs very light to loosen your muscles. No deep tissue massages.

Days 4-7

Running: One day, 2-4 miles very easy

Cross Training: Optional – Two days, 30-40 minutes easy effort. Promoting blood flow to the legs is the main goal, not building fitness.

Marathon Recovery Advice

  • Keep on track with your healthy diet. Drink a lot of water
  • Schedule a deep tissue massage
  • Epsom Salt Bath. About an hour before bed, massage your legs out with the stick or self massage and then soak in a hot/warm bath with 3 cups epsom salt and 1 cup baking soda for 10-15 minutes.

Days 7-14

Running: Four days of 4-6 miles very easy.

Cross Training: Optional – Three sessions total, but not more. One easy session and two medium effort sessions for 30-45 minutes.

Days 14-21

Running: Begin to slowly build back into your regular training. My suggestion is up to five runs of 4-8 miles with 4 x 20 sec strides after each run.

Cross Training: 1 easy session, 1 medium session, and 1 hard session of 40-50 minutes.

Marathon Recovery Advice

  • Don’t worry about losing endurance or fitness during this recovery period.
  • It takes up to 3 weeks until you are back into good shape after running a marathon, so don’t stress yourself
  • Try not to schedule a race until 6 weeks after your marathon. Patience is a virtue, but it will pay off in the end.


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