Recovery Guidelines After Running a Marathon
Completing a marathon is an accomplishment that you should be proud of. However, it is just half the story and the other half is about how well or how fast you recover from it. Post marathon recovery is not as simple as you think it to be. Many factors are involved in speeding up your recovery. And just like every individual is different, so should be the recovery process.
Eat and Drink
Do not sit down to grab a big meal post-race. Instead have a small snack within 30 to 60 minutes of finishing the race. Save the big meal for later part of the day when your appetite returns. The time after the marathon is crucial and so you must take 200 to 300 worth of calories in combination with carbs and protein. It will replenish the muscle glycogen, maintain sugar level in the blood, and repair the muscle tissue damage from the marathon.
Try half a turkey sandwich, pretzels, or almond butter. The race has taken place in summer and you have been all sweaty and drained, include a liquid recovery drink. Similarly, if the weather is cold, try a soup. Sip liquids through the day to rehydrate and continue to nibble a balanced snack of protein and carbohydrates to gain lost energy.
Relax and Rejuvenate in a Shower
Immediately after finishing the race, it is important that you not only take a shower but a contrast shower, which is a must. If you do not know what is a contrast shower? It is an alternate between hot and cold water for your legs. Try one minute hot and then one minute cold. The cold water allows the veins of your legs to go through vasoconstriction while the hot water leads to vasodilation. This oscillation between constriction and dilation allows oxygen-rich fresh blood to gush through the veins and help it recover from the marathon.
After a marathon, your legs are only that part of the body that go through the most, and as a result, they have thousands of minor tears on cellular levels of the muscles. Therefore, the alternate shower system helps speed up the aiding of muscle tissue damage for faster recovery.
Leg Up, Stretch, Roll and Massage
Yoga has the solution for everything, then why not this? Take some time out to do a 10 minutes yoga pose for Viparita Karani or “Legs Up on the Wall”. It reverses the circulation through your legs and gently stretches the muscles of the lower body. It is a great way to let your legs relax from all the running.
After at least 2 to 6 hours of the race, foam roll or stretch at your leisure. And wait for at least 24 hours for a massage. This time will allow the muscles to replenish the energy and fluids from the continuous demands of the race.
Take a Break
One of the biggest mistakes made by marathon runners is to start running after a day or two. When you are running a marathon, your body goes through a lot, and the best you can do for it is to take some rest and enjoy the time celebrating rather than going out for a run. You can always do some fun-filled and relaxing exercises like go for a walk or do yoga and even take a month off to wind up your body and muscle.
Cross-training exercises work great to boost circulation and warm up your muscles and speed up the recovery journey. Give your body the time to realign so it can come out much stronger than before the race.