It’s Bank Holiday Monday afternoon and you’ve just completed the Dublin Marathon!! Right now your mind should be turning to recovery. As thrilled and excited as you’ll be, taking care of yourself in the days and weeks that follow the Dublin Marathon are going to be vital. Recovery should start the second the medal is draped around your neck outside Holles Street.
If you want to understand what your body goes through when running a marathon, just click HERE for all the gorey details. It is certainly an important read and something you should know but right now the rest of this article is about recovering and getting back to not being sore and stiff.
To be honest, there is no stead and fast rule as to how long it will take you to recover, it varies person to person and some of us will take longer to recover than others. Those who have run a few marathons will recover faster than those of you who are running your first but we all need to take our time recovering to give us the best possible platform for future races and avoiding injury.
Something I believe in is taking a recovery protein shake straight after a marathon. Having run a good few marathons, I find these to help a massive amount and even following the ultra-marathon I completed in September, my recovery time was greatly reduced. I use Kinetica myself but there are a wide range of products out there. Try get a couple of bottles in a shop just after the race and you’ll find this will help the body replenish those vital glycogen stores. There’s a summary on site about how Kinetica works and you can read that by clicking HERE
Get something small to eat, the race pack should have a few goodies in there that’ll help you on your way to be sure to get them in but eat them slowly just so you don’t make yourself sick.
Try to walk as much as you can after crossing the finish line. This may hurt but this is the best way of getting the lactic acid out of your system. By sitting down straight away, you will cramp up and recovery will be a harder process. Take one step at a time, literally. Your legs will be like jelly but every step is a step closer to recovery.
Your legs will hurt and by hurt, I mean they will hurt a lot. This will last for a few days or as I found for my first marathon, could even last a week. From experience, there’s a few things you can do. When you get home, keep your legs elevated. During the days that follow, try keep your legs elevated for about 30 min a day until the soreness is gone.
As sore as it may be, try and stretch your legs out when you get home after the marathon. If you have a roller, be sure to gently roll out your legs every day for the first week after the race to help flush out the lactic acid out of your muscles. Just be aware of your body and not to put yourself through too much pain.
Even resting on the couch with your legs on one of the arms will do. If you can manage it, get a couple of towels and soak them in water and pop them in the freezer. You can wrap your legs in these and it will help the recovery process. If you’re brave enough, having a 10 minute soak in a cold bath will do wonders and you will feel great after.
You’re going to be dehydrated too, so drink water. The key is little and often as if you gulp down the litres, your body won’t have time to rehydrate properly. This will also help your body to get rid of the lactic acid in your muscles.
Hopefully you will have purchased the 1000 mile socks and won’t have too much of an issue with blisters, but if you do happen to get a few blisters, the best advice is to leave them be. They will naturally go away. If they have burst, the main thing is preventing infection. With regards to this, I would suggest consulting a foot specialist but the key thing is keeping your feet clean. Wash them in salt water and dress the wound. If you do decide to drain the blister, be sure to keep it dressed. If soreness persists, seek advice as soon as you can.
Colds and Flu
Your body will be run down and your immune system will be susceptible to getting colds and flu. Prevention is better than the cure so be sure to be aware that you need rest and to take in plenty of vitamin C from natural sources such as oranges or juices. Be sure to eat regular meals and to rest for the first couple of weeks after the marathon to allow yourself to recover fully.
Take a Break from running
I know what you’re thinking, I’ve been there myself. You’ve just run a marathon and feel like you should be getting out there training again. There are loads of sites out there with different advice. From the books I’ve read and from personal experience, giving yourself 3 weeks off is best. Most sites say a day per mile but being creatures of habit and routine, 3 weeks allows you to recover and get back into running. The biggest mistake we all make is not taking enough time to recover properly.
Taking the first week off is both key and won’t impact on your overall fitness. When you’re starting back, don’t go hitting the roads hard again. Ease yourself into the miles by reverse tapering. By reverse tapering I mean build the miles the same way you eased off before your marathon.
Plan your next race
I know I just said take a break from running, but you need something to focus the mind in the coming months and to keep your mind focused. Picking a few nice local 5ks will get you back out there and if your body feels up to it, there are some great spring marathons. I’m looking at 3 myself, Frankfurt, Paris and Barcelona. Just having a goal on the horizon will make sure you don’t feel lost and unmotivated those first few weeks after the marathon.
If you have any questions about recovery, joining a running group or club or any running question in general, leave a comment below or email [email protected]