After we returned from the Boston Marathon an awesome reader of mine emailed me requesting that I talk about what Wes or myself do in terms of recovering after a marathon.
As you all know, it has been about a year since I have run a marathon. I thought it would be best to focus on this from Wes’ perspective, but I can throw in some of what I do since our recovery does vary a little bit.
If you didn’t already know, Wes is a high mileage runner. He has now decreased his mileage to focus on speed, but he usually averages anywhere between 100 and 120 miles per week in peak training. Of course, with his injury this cycle was a little different.
He has always been very focused on proper recovery post marathon ever since he began running the Chicago Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon just a few weeks apart.
Even when he is not running another marathon, his post-marathon recovery is always the same.
Please keep in mind while a lot of these are things that everyone can do it doesn’t mean what he does or what I does is right for you. I am just sharing these from personal experience.
If you have ever noticed right when you finish a marathon it is most painful when you stop. If you try to sit down most likely you will have someone from the medical tent asking if you are okay.
Walking is the best thing you can do post-marathon.
On the evening after a marathon you won’t find Wes or myself sitting in bed. We are out walking around. One of our favorite things to do is either go downtown and walk around or find a local mall and walk. Walking is painful but it helps keep your legs moving and avoid the build up of lactic acid.
I know it’s tempting to sit and do nothing the night after a marathon, but I promise if you walk around at least for an hour or two after your marathon your legs will thank you.
Funny story one year after the Marine Corps Marathon Wes and I had to walk almost 5 miles to get back to the hotel because we had no other way of getting back. I’d say Wes got PLENTY of walking in that day!
This is one of the first places that Wes and I have differed in the past post-marathon.
The morning after the marathon Wes always gets up and runs 2-3 VERY SLOW miles. I always thought he was kind of crazy, but he swears it helps him feel better. I have gone along with him on these runs when I didn’t run myself, but I personally have never ran the day after.
I think this is more of a personal preference. No matter when you first decide to run after a marathon make sure you are running easy. I take it easy for at least 2-3 weeks post marathon. You want your legs to have time to recover.
It is important post marathon to make sure you are getting in your potassium. This will help you so much when it comes to the pain that sets in the day after or even worse two days after your marathon.
Potassium works with the sodium to help regulate the fluid and electrolyte levels in your body. As well a know proper fluid levels in the body help to prevent cramping and muscle fatigue.
There are so many great potassium rich foods you can enjoy post marathon: bananas, yogurt, and milk are just a few.
Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.
If you are anything like me when you finish any race you feel sick. In fact, there is nothing that I want to eat or drink when I first finish. It takes a few hours for my stomach to get back in line.
No matter how you feel make sure you are continually hydrating both during and after the race. Even when you don’t feel like it keep a drink with you and sip on it as you recover. This will really help you the morning after if you hydrate properly before, during and after your marathon.
The week post-marathon Wes (and myself) focuses on getting lots of good protein sources into his body. You want to help repair and rebuild your muscles after the wear and tear of the marathon. Protein is a great way to do that.
The first meal post marathon for us always contains some sort of protein. Even though it is easy to want to eat some huge unhealthy meal, we always try to make it somewhat healthy and full of good carbs and protein.
Throughout the week we also make sure to pay attention to eat enough protein to keep the body repairing itself and staying strong.
This one really shouldn’t be hard for anyone. Sleep is so important to help repair your body after a marathon.
Wes especially has always been on a crazy schedule. A lot of times we don’t get to hang around after the marathon and have to get right back in the car to be back on his rotation.
It’s often hard to find time to get good sleep afterwards but it is so important. If Wes runs I usually do most of the driving on the way home so that he can rest.
That’s it. It’s nothing fancy or too special. The real big differences between Wes and I with marathon recovery is how soon after we begin to run.
Wes never really takes a day off. He runs short and easy for the first several days after the marathon and then starts ramping back up. My body in no way can handle that. I typically take off 3-4 days but wait and see how my body recovers. The important thing to remember is that everyone is different. Do what works for you!
I have a great giveaway coming for you this afternoon. Make sure to check back!
What do you do for marathon recovery?
What’s your favorite post-marathon meal? After dinner I always have to get a HUGE thing of frozen yogurt..