Sarah Green & Jon Grayson… what to do in week 1 after your Marathon. Women’s Health 20th April 2015
THE ULTIMATE MARATHON RECOVERY PLAN
So, you’ve finished the marathon, you’ve got 26 miles behind you and your legs are jelly ‐ time to relax with a week of recovery (that doesn’t mean sitting down for seven days).
RECOVERY ON THE DAY
After 26.2 miles, it is likely that you will feel some degree of muscle soreness. The key is to keep moving! Try to keep walking for 10‐15 minutes once you cross the finish line to reduce muscle stiffness.
Eat & Drink
Keep well hydrated and eat some form of protein‐rich food. This will help flush out the lactate build up and replenish muscle fibres from the micro‐trauma sustained.
Wait at least two to six hours after the race before you stretch and foam roll. This allows your muscles time to replenish fluids and energy lost and recover from the demands of the race. Static stretching can be done but is not essential.
If you’ve pushed through your threshold and felt some pain, then icing immediately afterwards on the affected area for 10‐20mins at a time, up to every few hours for 24‐48 hrs can help give short term relief. If you’re feeling brave you can try an ice bath for your legs for 10mins to help with that muscle soreness too!
DAY 1: RECOVERY THE DAY AFTER THE MARATHON
This is key! Inflammation from micro‐trauma builds overnight. This leads to scar tissue formation and excessive muscle stiffness unless it is eased out. A simple 30min light cycle or swim the day after can aid a quicker recovery. Don’t just rest… recover.
Walking and gentle sports massage can also help by reducing tension and inflammation, particularly in the first few days after a marathon.
Don’t forget, you did something amazing, celebrate and enjoy your achievement.
DAY 2‐7: THE WEEK AFTER THE MARATHON
If you felt pain during and after the marathon then it is likely that you have damaged the muscle soft tissue. It is important to know the phases of soft tissue healing process to prevent causing
Phase 1 ‐ bleeding 0‐48hrs
Phase 2 ‐ inflammation up to 5‐10days
Phase 3 ‐ proliferation up to 3‐6 weeks
Phase 4 ‐ remodelling up to months/years
If phase 1 and 2 respond to general PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation) treatment and ease pain then you can return to running within phase 3 and gradually build back up.
If this is still pain free then keep going, as phase 4 continues without you knowing about it. However if pain persists with return to running after 5‐10 days then get treatment.
Build back into running very gently. Once muscle soreness has significantly reduced (usually two to four days after the race), try a short light jog to aid blood flow and ‘feed the need’ for a regular run. Just be mindful to take it easy!
Listen to your body, allow time for your body to recover before you return to running longer distances and at faster speeds, use this time to cross train as an alternative.