7 Steps To Marathon Recovery

The physical and mental things you can do now to quickly bounce back from a marathon

April 18, 2016 | By Lucy Lewis

So you’ve completed a marathon, congratulations! Just taking part in this feat of strength and stamina is a major achievement, whether you’re a seasoned pro or first timer.  

But if this really is your first time participating in such a grueling event, don’t be a novice about your recovery. Your body has just allowed you to do something incredible, and now it’s time to be kind and return the favor by giving some TLC, so you can do it all over again.

Here are 7 things you can do now to bounce back from a marathon run: 

1. Hydrate 

After all that running, your body will have lost a huge amount of water through your sweat. You need to replenish your body’s supply of fluids to help it recover all of its regular bodily functions. 

2. Eat Foods That Will Help YourBbody Recover Fast 

Sweating also depletes sodium, which is why taking in plenty of it through your post-run diet does so much to bring about a quick recovery. Food with magnesium and potassium will do the trick – try including more dark, leafy greens, almonds, sunflower seeds, fish, avocado, bananas, yoghurt, and dark chocolate into your diet.  

3. Keep Moving, Slowly 

You may never want to move again after stepping over that finish line, however, maintaining blood flow helps your muscles heal faster. Take it easy, but don’t stop altogether! 

4. Have A Massage 

A massage not only feels good, but has also been proven to reduce marathon recovery time. It can help prevent injury by improving your range of motion and muscle flexibility, and maximises the supply of nutrients and oxygen by increasing blood flow to the muscles and getting rid of lactic acid. 

5. Stretch 

You may find that just putting your clothes on feels like a stretch at the moment, but as you slowly recover, try to extend your muscles by creating a daily stretch routine. 

Here are just a few of the most common stretches runners should do after a marathon: 

Standing Hamstring Stretch: 

• Stand with your feet hip distance apart 

• Bend your right knee and extend your left leg, pointing your toes up

• While holding this position, suck in your core, lower your upper body, and reach towards your left toes

• Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on your opposite side

Lying Down Hamstring Stretch: 

• Lie on your back with your legs extended and back straight

• Keep your left leg extended and bend your right knee towards your chest

• Reach for the back of your right hamstring and slowly straighten up your right leg

• Pull the right leg towards you while ensuring your hips remain on the floor 

• Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then switch

Calf Muscle Stretch: 

• Stand facing a wall

• Raise the toes of your left foot against the skirting board, keeping the heel of the left and all of the right foot on the floor

• Press your body into the wall increasing the stretch in the calf muscle, hold for 30 seconds

• Switch and repeat on the opposite side

Standing Quad Stretch: 

• Stand next to a chair or something you can hold onto for balance with your right hand 

• Bend your left knee by holding on to the left foot with the left hand

• Stand up straight with your core engaged

• Bring your knees together and push your hips forward

• Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side  

Hip Flexor Lunge Muscle Stretch: 

• Kneeling on both legs, bring your right leg forward and place the sole of the foot on the ground 

• Keep your left knee pressed to the floor with the toes curled under

• Engage your core and extend your hips forward until you feel a stretch down the front of the left leg around the hip area

• Repeat on the opposite side

6. Rest 

Don’t underestimate the importance of rest – the perfect amount varies for individuals, but even the super-fit need a week of relaxation at a minimum. Most people will require 10-12 days before putting their trainers back on!  

This is a good time to dedicate attention to something else that gives you pleasure, like an easy swim, a visit to the sauna or steam room, some gentle yoga, or a short walk. If you are frustrated by the thought of an ‘unproductive day,’ see it as a day of exercise for your most important organ of all, your brain. Just like your muscles, giving your brain a day off will only help you to rebuild and return stronger. 

7. Research Your Next Goal  

Now that you’ve put your feet up, you’ve got time to research your next goal. After putting in so much hard work, many find themselves getting restless if they’re not able to focus their mental energy on a new task.   

For runners, a 10K in the not-too-distant future can be a great goal to set. Many people participate in long-distance running events as a way of demonstrating the effects of their improved, more healthy lifestyle to themselves. For these runners, failing to set a new goal may lead to the return of unhealthy habits, leaving them feeling demotivated and thoroughly demoralised. Rely on the support of loved ones to help you get started, after all, they’re probably the reason you’re running in the first place!

Read next: The Health Benefits Of Running.