5 recovery tips after running a marathon
Marathon running season has started with the UK’s most famous, the London Marathon taking place later this month. For many spring and summer marathon runners, the hardest part of the training is done. Then after your 26.2 mile race, how can you best recover? Here are five tips that many athletes swear by.
Walk, stretch and raise your legs
As soon as the marathon ends, then you’ll probably want to collapse and have a rest. However, it is best to keep walking for at least 15 minutes so that your body cools down and allows your muscles to get rid of any waste products.
Also, it can be helpful to put your legs in the air for up to 10 minutes. For example, if you find a wall, then prop your legs up as you lay on the floor. This will reduce the fluid in your legs.
Gentle stretching of tired muscles is also recommended post-marathon.
Eat and hydrate
It is important after the marathon that you eat well to help muscle recovery and drink to properly replace fluids. Eat a small snack within the 30 to 60 minutes of finishing the race. Save a larger meal for later in the day when your appetite returns.
Immediately after the race you want to consume about 200 to 300 easily digestible calories from carbohydrates and protein to restore muscle glycogen, repair muscle tissue and maintain blood sugar levels. For example, you could eat half a turkey sandwich, almond butter on oatcakes, or a banana, yoghurt, milk and peanut butter smoothie.
A good night’s sleep
Sleep is crucial after a marathon as it is one of the most effective ways to heal your body. Napping can also help immediately after the race but try not to nap for more than 40 minutes as it will ruin your sleep that night. Your mattress should be supportive, breathable and comfortable. If you’re a frequent runner and you’re after a new mattress to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep, check out the five best mattresses for muscle recovery
Get a sports massage
Sports therapists know exactly what areas to target when someone goes to them after a run, and they will also be able to feel around for any muscles that have tightened from the marathon.
If you can’t afford a massage or you don’t think you’ll have time to squeeze one in, then you could try self massage with a foam roller or massage balls. Don’t overdo it and stick to a gentle massage to begin with.
Bath in cold or ice water
This one is more for the brave, but a lot of athletes say that getting into a cold bath or icy river water post-marathon helps muscles to repair and recover. If you don’t think you’d be able to do this, then wrap some ice in a towel and target the areas that you think you’ve done the most damage to during the run.