Marathon Recovery

Posted: January 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

The finish line of any marathon is littered with runners that literally cannot take another step.  Their mental focus ends the moment they stop their running watch.  But what you do in the seconds, minutes, hours, and days following a marathon will determine how quickly you recover from the marathon effort.

Completing a marathon can be one of the most fulfilling and empowering experiences in life!  Covering 26.2 miles requires incredible physical effort and mental focus.  The final miles can be spent just imagining running that final step as you cross your finish line.  It’s important that you employ the following strategy upon completing a marathon:

1. Continue walking as your receive your mylar blanket and finisher’s medal.  Your body is more receptive to nutrients in the first 30-60 minutes after a workout or race so eat and refuel as quickly as possible.  I have always preferred chocolate milk and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  This normally requires receiving support from someone willing to have a cooler waiting for you at the finish.  Another top priority is to replace sodium as soon as possible.  V-8 or pickle juice or great sources of sodium.  I ingested red licorice coated in salt so I maintained my sodium levels throughout the run.

2. Change into comfortable clothes (this will likely require assistance) and continue walking.  Walking allows you heart rate to gradually return to normal levels and continues to provide blood flow to your major muscle groups.

3. Use the stick or foam roller without applying too much pressure to your lower extremities.

4. Soak in an ice bath by beginning in a lukewarm bath and gradually adding ice.  You will be depleted of energy stores so this effort may be as challenging as the actual marathon.  Wearing a hat or top on your upper body will allow you to retain some of your core body heat.  The inclination is to take a warm/hot bubble bath but your muscles recover far more quickly from an ice bath.

5. Continue to refuel and eat in the hours afterwards.

6. Return to physical activity gradually.  Focus more on lower impact activities like spinning, water running, walking and yoga.

7. Use pain as my threshold of when you should return to running.  Incorporate more walking in your initial runs and certainly reduce the pace.

8. Last but certainly not least, enjoy your accomplishment!  You have invested a considerable effort into your marathon preparation.  And if you raised money for a charity you should reflect on the difference you have made in the life of someone else…there is no greater legacy than that!

You are now a marathoner and you will retain that title for the balance of your life!

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