Sometimes the morning after a marathon I feel like I have been hit by a bus, everything hurts. There have been times in the past that the soreness woke me up in the middle of the night when I turned because it was so painful! Walking down stairs and even sitting on the toilet for me used to be awful for a few days after the marathon. Typically my hamstrings are the tightest muscles on my body post race, there were times it seemed they just would not bend right! Doesn’t this make you want to run a marathon?!?!
In time, my post marathon recovery has gotten much better. I put in more miles than I used to and I do a better job of cross training. I think the more work you put into a marathon, the easier the race and the recovery are. That really holds true for any race. This time my chaffing hurt worse than my muscles, raw skin is never fun!
So what does the first week or two after a marathon entail? Rest and slow jogging. (And splurging on a few ice cream runs and pizza of course!) I used to take a full 7 days off of running. Some people take weeks off. There is a wide variety of recovery plans. But now that my muscles are more accustomed to the beating… I take 2-3 days completely off then start back with short, slow runs. I spend the next two weeks resting some, yet also building back up.
The hardest part for me after a marathon is the mental recovery. I lose steam, I feel unmotivated. I have spent months training for the big race, so after that it is hard sometimes to make myself get out of bed to go run. It is especially hard this time of year when the heat and humidity are on the rise.
Marathon Recovery is pretty simple:
Obviously you need to rest your body. This time frame can be different for everyone, depending on your level of soreness. Your body repairs itself when you are resting.
You lose a lot of fluids during a marathon, hydrating, not just the day of the race, but all week, is very important.
Fill your body with lots of healthy foods with plenty of vitamins. This will help your body recover as well. A good balance of proteins and carbs will help repair your muscles.
While you need rest, you also need to get moving so you avoid stiffness and further injury. You can start slow. A walk or an elliptical at the gym is a great way to start and you can eventually build back into a jog/run.
When you are ready, get back at it. It’s easy to allow yourself to fall into a rut after you accomplish a big goal. For me it goes one way or another, I’m either really motivated or really, really unmotivated! Either way I force myself after recovery to get back into a routine. When I’m struggling for motivation, I reach out to friends. I ask them to pull me out of the rut, and typically that helps!
Sticking with a plan is not easy, but trust me it is worth it.