Marathon Recovery: 6 Top Tips

London marathon day has been and gone.

And for those of you who ran the mammoth 26.2 miles, now is the time to congratulate yourself and marvel at the huge feat you’ve accomplished.

Don’t kick back and relax just yet though. Because now is also the time to start the marathon recovery process.

You probably devoted ages to working out your training schedule, putting together a good diet plan, and perhaps even to planning your race outfit.

But did you put the same amount of time and energy into devising a recovery plan after the marathon?

Because even though the running part of the marathon is done and dusted, you now need to put the hard work in to protect your body from sickness and injury.

To help you navigate this process, our expert team of Physios and clinical Pilates teachers have put together 6 of the best ways to recover from the marathon.

Marathon recovery tip 1. Hydrate

Before you reach for that celebratory glass of fizz, focus on rehydration.

Whilst this is always the most important piece of advice for a runner post-marathon, this year’s race was the hottest on record.

This means that focusing on rehydrating in the days afterwards is going to be especially important.

The best way to do this is to sip water little and often, and avoid diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol. You can check if you are sufficiently hydrated by checking your urine; if it is a dark yellow colour then you need to up your intake.

It can also be a good idea to include an electrolyte tab in your water to replenish those vital vitamins and minerals lost during that sweaty run.

marathon recovery

Marathon recovery tip 2. Keep Moving

As tempting as it might be to chill out on a sofa or stay in your desk chair for the next week – don’t do it!

Experts recommend that you rest for between 26 – 42 days following a marathon, depending on whether they suggest a rest day for each mile or each kilometre covered. But by “rest” they don’t mean do nothing.

Instead, in the days immediately following the marathon it is important to keep moving as this will help combat muscle stiffness. Gentle, low-impact exercises such as swimming, walking or Pilates are all good choices to help with this. For those of you who are desk-bound for most of the day at work, it is also advisable to get up and move around every 15-30 mins.

Only return to gentle jogging once you’ve given yourself at least a few days to get over the fatigue and muscle aches. Keep to a low level of intensity for your work- outs whilst your body continues to return to normal.

Marathon recovery tip 3. Get Some Treatment

Most people will feel some muscle soreness after such a long run, regardless their level of fitness. And, even if you’re not feeling it right now, delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) can kick in days later.

To help reduce the discomfort associated with DOMS, a gentle soft tissue sports massage might be a good investment. Increasing blood flow to the muscles in this way can speed up your recovery time and reduce inflammation.

Intensive training and long runs – like the kind you do for the marathon – also take their toll on the nervous system. A gentle massage can help with calming your mind and body, and will give your over-stimulated nervous system a break.

And, it might also be worth directing some attention to your feet. They’ve worked hard too and are probably in need of some massage therapy. You can use a ball for self-massage in this area – just be gentle and don’t apply too much pressure.

Marathon recovery tip 4. Give Running a Break

Running for 26 miles puts an enormous amount of strain on your joints, muscles and adrenal system.

And so, whilst you might want to get back on the road straight away, it might be a good idea to try alternative forms of exercise to support your body during the recovery period.

The experts at Women’s Health magazine advise that machine Pilates can be a great option for post-marathon runners – and the team at Complete Pilates couldn’t agree more.

This is because equipment Pilates is a low-impact form of exercises that stretches and activates muscles without putting stress on joints.

And, most importantly; “Pilates facilitates the removal of lactic acid, reducing inflammation and increasing fluid dynamics into your joints to promote recovery and optimise tissue healing.”

Find out more about the 1-2-1 sessions we offer at Complete Pilates.

marathon recovery

Marathon recovery tip 5. Refuel

You needed to eat the right food to fuel your run. Now you need to support your body’s recovery through good diet.

To help repair muscles and restore your energy levels it important to eat sufficient amounts of carbohydrates and protein-rich foods. Lean meat, nut butter, Greek yoghurt and grains such as brown rice and whole grain bread are all excellent sources.

It is also important to keep up a healthy and varied diet in the days and weeks that follow the marathon. This will support – and speed up – your recovery.

Marathon recovery tip 6. Congratulate Yourself

And finally, remember to high five yourself! You’ve achieved something amazing and you should feel proud.

Recovery is the time to be good to yourself. Use it is as a way to thank your body for seeing you through such an epic and unforgettable challenge.

marathon recovery

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Education is key:

These blogs are designed to give information to everyone, however, it is important to remember that everyone is different! If you have not seen one of our therapists and have any questions about injuries, what you have read or whether this may be useful to you, please just ask.

At Complete Pilates we would advise you to always speak to your doctor, physiotherapist, or clinical Pilates instructor here at Complete Pilates if you are worried about starting a new exercise regime.
We are more than happy to help anyone and point you in the right direction. Our biggest belief is that education is key. The more you understand about your injury, illness and movement, the more you are likely to improve.