How to Recover Effectively From a Marathon
Posted in: LIFE AND HOME
The 2016 TCS New York City Marathon will take place on the 7th November, so how do you recover effectively without putting your health at risk? There's no doubt that you'll feel great when you finish a marathon, regardless if you win the race or not. But you should know some crucial tips in order to keep your health in check after running: sip some water and hug a loved one, because you did it! You more than likely trained hard and fuelled your body properly for the race, so now what about your recovery? If you don’t recover properly, you will increase your risk of injury. This could also jeopardise your long-term potential. The following steps will help you recover as quickly and effectively as possible.
Immediately After Your Marathon
Don't stress about your post-race recovery before or during the marathon, as you should be channelling your energy into your race strategy. If you have someone waiting for you at the finish line, have them bring you extra clothes and possibly a blanket. Once you stop running your temperature will drop and you'll get cold fairly quickly. Although this won’t help you recover, it will make you more comfortable. When you’ve put on some fresh socks and comfy shoes, have something to eat. Opt for something that will provide you with quick energy, such as a bagel, energy bar, banana or sports drink. Once you’re back home or in your hotel room, run an ice cold bath. Expose your lower body to this ice bath for around 15 minutes. How does this help?
Well, after you work out your body needs to repair itself. When you sit in an ice bath you reduce lactic acid that has built up in your muscles. The cold temperature causes your blood vessels to tighten, which then drains lactic acid out of your muscles. In turn this will reduce swelling and pain and allow you to begin your recovery process. After your bath, simply relax and enjoy your accomplishment.
Post Race: Days 1-3
At this point you’ll want to refrain from any running or training, as you should be focusing solely on recovering. For the three days following your marathon run, soak your muscles in a hot tub for 10 minutes or so each day, then have a good stretch. Focus on a diet that's dense in carbs and protein. Eat lots of fruit, as the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants will help target your immune system. Carbs and protein are important for energy and muscle repair. If your muscles are sore, don’t go for a deep massage just yet. Simply administer light massage in tender areas.
Post Race: Days 4-7
On one of these days, run 1-3 miles very gently; there's no need to overdo it. A slow and steady pace is ideal. If you would like to focus on some training, only exert minimal effort. This will be more targeted towards increasing blood flow, not building muscle or fitness levels. If you have any areas that are really tender or injured, now is the time to get that looked at by a professional masseuse or physiotherapist. Epsom baths will also be your best friend. Each night before bed, soak in an Epsom bath for 15 minutes. Just add around 3 cups of Epsom salts to your bathwater, stretch well then relax before bed.
Post Race: Days 7-14
Continue to follow your healthy diet while incorporating optional exercise. At this point you can run a few miles at a slow and steady pace, up to three times within this 8-day period. If you would like to train, focus on one easy session then a couple of medium-effort sessions. There's no need to train for more than 30-40 minutes. You may be eager to get back into it, but if you train too hard, you could do damage.
Continue maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Remember to drink lots of water, staying hydrated at all times. Rest plenty and stretch often. Once you feel as though your muscles have fully recovered and you’re not struggling to work out, ease back into your training sessions.
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