Marathon Recovery

As I sat down to write this blog I could think of nothing more fitting than a few tips about recovery, on the weekend of the London Marathon. Thousands of runners and walkers will be thinking about crossing the finish line at 26.2 miles but the truth is, it doesn’t stop there! What happens next is just as important as the training leading up to the marathon and the marathon itself. Having a few clients running the marathon, I thought there will be many people out there that don’t know the best way of recovering and could do with a few tips. Many of these tips can be used for recovery after any exercise or sports event not just for such gruelling events as the marathon, so here goes……

  • Cool down: Recovery starts straight away after the event. A cool down is very important to reduce stiffness and muscle soreness created from lactic acid build up in the muscles. A thorough cool down can help flush the lactic acid away and reduce DOMS(delayed onset muscle soreness). A jog, walk and thorough stretch could be the difference between recovering in days or weeks. Once you have stopped running, your muscles will stiffen up, even after a cool down, so it is wise to keep moving every 15-20 minutes on the way home from the marathon, to prevent an uncomfortable recovery period.
  • Rehydration: Replacing lost fluids is vital. You can lose lbs just from lost fluids that need to be replaced for a speedy recovery. Also body salts and electrolytes need replacing and a good way of doing this is to add a dioralyte sachet to each bottle of water that you drink. They don’t taste great but they will help to replace the salts and electrolytes that your body has lost. It is important to drink water throughout the day not just gulp straight after the race. A good way to judge dehydration, is the colour of your urine. If it is dark, you need to continue to rehydrate until it is more of a pale yellow colour.
  • Replacing energy: Eating a high carbohydrate and protein meal will help your energy levels and the protein is great for muscle and tissue repair. If possible, try to eat a good meal within the first hour after finishing the marathon. Chicken and pasta are a good example of a high carb and protein meal.
  • Ice: If you can cope with it and you have somewhere to have one, an ice bath is great for keeping inflammation to a minimum. Ten minutes are all you need to help with your recovery. If you really can’t handle an ice bath, putting an ice pack on any areas with aches or pains will again reduce any inflammation and help speed up recovery. As much as you might want one, refrain from having a warm bath or sitting in a hot tub as they will increase any bleeding in muscles and can impede recovery.
  • Blisters: If you have accumulated some blisters during the 26.2 miles, they can get very uncomfortable after the adrenalin of the race fades. What you do with them depends on if the blisters are in tact or broken. If in tact, I would suggest sterilizing a needle, bursting and draining the blister and get some fresh air to it so it can dry out. If it has already broken and split away from the skin, it can become very sore. Cleaning it with antiseptic will stop infection but it will need to dry out and  heal without further rubbing/friction on other shoes. Try to keep the area open, flip-flops will allow you to air the blister out without rubbing unless it is under the foot.
  • Rest: After all the above, arrange a massage or two to help you rest and move any muscle soreness you still have. The general rule for exercising again is to rest for as many days as the amount of miles you run (26 days) before training again, but each individual is different. Let your body speak to you and if it feels too early, it probably is!
  • Sleep: The following days after the marathon, it is important to get plenty of sleep. This is your body’s time to heal and a good nights sleep can make a big difference in the way you feel mentally and physically.

Now you have completed the marathon and achieved what so many can only dream of, it is up to you to take care of your body and use these tips to help you back to normality.

Congratulations on your achievement.