Tuesday 25 June 2019

Give your body recovery time after the marathon run

One of the biggest mistakes marathoners make is starting out at too fast a pace
One of the biggest mistakes marathoners make is starting out at too fast a pace

Catherina McKiernan

Congratulations to all of you who finished the marathon. But remember, a full recovery can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending on the intensity of your race.

While most will feel exhilarated with their performances, I've no doubt some of you will be disappointed. In every walk of life, people have good days and not so good days.

Pain, injury, quitting - these experiences don't feel good, but within every experience is an opportunity to do something else. Why beat yourself up over things you can't control? In a few weeks, when you have had time to reflect on your marathon, you can set new and exciting goals for yourself.

One of the biggest mistakes marathon runners make is not taking enough recovery time after such a race. Muscles, tendons, ligaments and almost every physiological system is challenged when running a marathon. It's a long way to go and your body endures tremendous physical stress.

The immune system is severely compromised after running 26.2 miles, which increases the risk of getting colds and flu.

Therefore, skipping a much-needed rest period could lead to interrupted training down the road and disrupt your chances of reaching your next goal.

Get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy and varied diet of fruit, vegetables, foods high in proteins and carbohydrates like meat, fish, chicken, eggs, potatoes, rice, pasta, dairy etc. If you feel you can endure soaking your legs in cold water for eight minutes at a time for a day or two after the race, this will enhance recovery.

Following that, you can treat yourself to some warm baths with Epsom salts. Another good idea is to get a gentle massage, but it has to be light because a deep tissue massage would create more soreness.

Ten days after the marathon, it is fine to get a deep massage.

Light activity will increase your blood circulation and allow oxygen and nutrients to flow to your muscles again.

Actively rest with lower impact activities like walking, swimming and cycling. Keep moving enough to keep the energy flowing, but know that this is definitely not a time to push yourself.

Depending on how your body feels, I would suggest two to three weeks after the marathon you could go for a very easy 30min run and do this every second day. You may not feel like a runner on these runs, but you are laying down the groundwork for your next training cycle.

Gradually, over time, increase your volume towards your normal training level. You should start to feel like a runner again, but not a runner ready to race.

Most importantly, listen to your body.

If there are lingering aches and pains, consider taking a few more rest days and letting things heal completely.

Good luck for a speedy recovery, and I'm looking forward to meeting some of you at 5k and 10k races over the winter months.


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