Firstly, running a marathon is an incredible achievement and you should already be so proud! Now you’re probably either reading this article because your friends have told you that you are going to ache for DAYS after a marathon or that you’ve just run a marathon and need some recovery tips. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
1-2 Hours Post-Marathon
First things first, enjoy your achievement! You’ve just run 26.2 miles and you should soak that all up. Take some time to revel in what you have just accomplished!
This is arguably the most crucial time to kickstart your marathon recovery. You’ve just finished the race and all you want to do is sit down and eat lots of food, which is definitely something you should do. It’s super important you keep moving after the marathon to avoid that dreaded seizing up of your muscles! Try to keep moving, snacking and hydrating. Your body on average loses around a litre of fluid (in sweat) an hour as you run. Now imagine you’ve just run a 4 and a half hour marathon, that’s 4.5 litres to replace!
We’re not saying down gallons of liquid (because your bladder will not keep up!) but just be mindful about little sips throughout the day.
24 Hours Post-Marathon
Today you may have woken up feeling a little achy and stiff. Don’t worry that is completely normal! The main thing today is to not do anything too strenuous because your body is in full recovery mode now. If you have quite a labour-intensive job maybe ask a colleague to lend you a hand with some of your workload if possible.
The main thing today is to keep moving, eating and potentially think about booking a light massage to help ease any tightness or pains you may have. We definitely don’t recommend going for a run!
7 Days Post-Marathon
Your body should start to feel considerably less achy now unless there are any underlying niggles or injuries that started after/during the marathon. Don’t discount this and be sure to go to see a physiotherapist if you are unsure.
Our bodies have an amazing way of recovering quite quickly from strenuous exercise but a marathon sure hits slightly different. You may feel like you can run but it’s best to play it safe for now and perhaps try a light bike ride or swim just to see how your muscles react.
Now would be the best time to get a deep tissue massage just to flush away any “marathoness” from the body. This will just give you a better fighting chance of returning to running sooner.
This is also the time where post-marathon blues might kick in. There was a huge hype leading up to the race and you put so much time and mental headspace into training then all of a sudden you’re resting up and not running much at all. Our top tip for this is to plan your next marathon/event to keep that excitement and motivation high.
14 Days Post-Marathon Recovery
This is when you can slowly begin to start running again (I know!!). I would still have caution and not go straight back into full training again. Start with some easy 20-30 minute runs every other day. The main thing is to listen to your body and don’t discount any random aches and pains you may have.
Your week might look like this:
This gives your body some time to adapt to running again but doesn’t add any stress of faster running into the mix. Definitely take all of these runs with a pinch of salt. You’re not going to know how it’s going to feel until you get out of the door!
Sometimes I find that running on a treadmill helps because it means I can just hop off if my body is more fatigued than I thought, rather than thinking I still have 10 minutes of running to get home!
1 Month after your Marathon
By now your body should be fully rested, but on the off chance that it isn’t be sure to get another massage or visit your physiotherapist. There could be some hidden underlying problems from running the marathon.
The important thing to remember is to not be afraid of losing any running fitness during this period of rest and recovery. The only thing you’ll risk is training too hard too soon and you’ll have to stop training again due to running whilst you are still fatigued.
Something to keep in mind is that it takes around 3-4 weeks of solid training to get back to the same level of fitness again. It may feel like you are back to square one but trust me you’ll find that session soon that will be the turning point for you!
Knowing this, don’t plan any races for at least 6-7 weeks post-marathon. This is not just from a fatigue perspective but also from a fitness/injury prevention one!
Post-Marathon Recovery Summary
After a marathon is the best time to review your training and really come to terms with the fact that you just ran 26.2 miles! Don’t discount the fact that you are potentially going to feel a little low after such a high, so start to make some plans for the future. Perhaps target a different distance with this marathon fitness to carry over?