I kind of loved marathon recovery this week. I felt so sick after the Calgary marathon that my day-of marathon recovery was less than stellar. I hadn’t eaten ANYTHING during the marathon and I had had less than the recommended amount of water for running 2 miles much less a marathon, so I was not in any shape to eat when I finished the race. I was just so happy to have survived that I didn’t care what I did that day, I just wanted to not feel so sick.
Simultaneously recovering from food poisoning and running a marathon is tricky. On one hand I didn’t want to eat anything and just needed to let my stomach settle but on the other hand I had just run for 4 hours and really needed something to help my muscles begin recovery. I ran three days after the Calgary marathon, I don’t know how, but I did. Considering after Sunday’s marathon I went hiking three days later, I clearly haven’t mastered marathon recovery but I have learned some things.
DO: Fuel properly during your race… it significantly helps your recovery. It’s a lot easier to stay on top of your hydration and energy than it is to play “catch up.” If I make sure to eat energy chews and drink water, I don’t feel as rungry all day and I am not nauseous at all.
DON’T: Avoid eating after the race. Get SOMETHING in you. I never ever feel like eating after a long run but I know I have to to help recovery. Protein shakes are my favourite because they are hydrating as well as fuelling and they are a lot easier to get down than solid food. Peanut butter cookies optional.
DO: Take it easy after the race. Don’t go to work, don’t plan on painting your house, and don’t promise to go biking with someone later that day. Take it really easy and let yourself rest. For me it was really easy to do that, for those with kids and responsibilities, umm… just try your hardest. I watched two hours of Game of Thrones after the Edmonton Marathon and I don’t regret a second of that “wasted” time.
DON’T: Go crazy with the foam roller after the race. Hold off on trying to “get ahead” of your muscle recovery by blasting them with the foam roller right after the race. Light stretching and easy dynamic stretches will help your muscles not tighten up as much but your muscles are super fragile and too much on them too soon won’t help. Experts recommend waiting 2-6 hours before foam rolling, and 24 hours before a massage.
DO: Sleep. This week contained the most days in a row this summer that I didn’t set an alarm. I had booked a few days off of work after the marathon so that I could recover, sleep, and pretty much avoid any possible obligations. I didn’t sleep at all the night before the race so in addition to my body being tired from running for 3 hours and 37 minutes, I was mentally drained and really needed to sleep. For the first few nights after the race I got at least 8-10 hours of sleep. It was heavenly.
DON’T: Workout like crazy the week after. I kind of, maybe, possibly failed at this one. I took it easy on Monday, the day after the race, and got in 45 minutes of SUPER easy elliptical just to loosen up my muscles. The next day I did the same with 60 minutes of elliptical accompanied by lots of stretching. On Wednesday my mom and I were in Lake Louise and may or may not have hiked for over three hours and climbed over 3000 ft. of elevation. You can imagine how sore I was after that. I DON’T recommend that strategy for smart recovery.
DO: Go easy when you start running again. I took a full day of rest on Thursday after all of that hiking on Wednesday, and then did another 60 minute easy elliptical stint yesterday. After 5 days of no running I did a super easy run today just to “test the waters.” Jumping back in with speed or distance won’t get you very far (no pun intended… well, it was a little intended).
DON’T: Look at anyone else’s recovery plan. Even mine. I am by no means an expert and I can’t even coach MYSELF to a healthy recovery (hello seven hours of exercise in the three days after the marathon), so try and follow some of these “tips” but do your own thang. Everyone responds differently to a marathon and some people may need three days to recover, while others might need three weeks. Only try running when you feel ready!
DO: Focus on post-race nutrition. Not just your protein shake after the race, but for at least a few days after. Eating nutrient-dense foods and lots of protein and vegetables is key for muscle recovery. You will feel 872% better eating healthy after a race than if you were to throw all of those healthy eating trends you started during training away.
DON’T: Just eat 100% healthy food. Treat yo self. I may have been using the “I ran a marathon, I deserve a treat”
one five too many times this week, but it was kind of the best. I focused a lot on fuelling my body with the best during marathon training so I felt like I needed to let loose a bit and I did. Once school starts I won’t have time for treats anyway, amirite? 😉
Besides hiking and biking in Banff National Park this week, I tried really hard to take it easy and recover like a champ. I got lots of sleep because I know I needed it and I made sure to get lots of protein in my diet to help my muscles. Check out HERE and HERE for some more marathon recovery advice!
What do you DO and what DON’T you do for marathon (or any race distance) recovery?