10 Steps To Better Post-Marathon Recovery

Ran a marathon last weekend? We’ve got everything you need to recover faster!

With Spring marathon season in full swing, some of you will reading this with aching legs, sore calves, and feet that feel like they’ve walked on hot coals. The good news is that any runner can speed up their marathon recovery with a few expert tips.

So grab a big glass of water, pop those feet up, and have a read of this post-marathon advice.

#1 Take a physical audit

Every one of you will feel different after finishing a marathon. So give yourself a head-to-toe (especially the toes!) check. How do you feel? What’s sore? Is anything injured? Have you got any blisters, sunburn, areas of chafing? Work out which bits of you simply need a bit of time, and which bits might need the attention of a physio or massage therapist.

#2 Don’t rush back

You might feel funny about running immediately after a marathon. Training has been such a big part of your life for so long, so it would feel weird not to run! But at the same time, you kind of can’t bear the idea of it. It’s OK to have conflicting feelings about running. It’s important not to rush back into training. When you do feel ready to lace up your trainers, take it easy. Run for enjoyment, rather than pace or distance. You could even leave your GPS at home… (or is that asking too much?) If in doubt, take more rest. Forcing yourself back into running won’t achieve anything physically, but could risk you falling out of love with it entirely.

#3 Active recovery

But remember, extra rest doesn’t have to mean turning your back on exercise completely. There’s plenty you can do to keep active and get outside, without stressing your body with the repetitive strides of running. Use some active recovery over the next few weeks. Long walks, swimming, gentle cycling, or maybe a class like yoga or something fun. Now is a great time to try something new, or revisit activities which had to take a back seat during marathon training.

#4 Set a new goal

Thinking about running won’t put your body under any stress or strain! So feel free to think about your next running goals as much as you want. What’s next for you? Another marathon? Or perhaps you want to shorten the distance and focus on a bit of pace over 5K or 10K or Half Marathon. Take a look at the Windsor Half Marathon – we have lots of fun!

#5 Plan a recovery training block

Whilst you’re resting, it could be fun to sketch out your next running training block. If you’ve chosen your next running goal, work back from it and design yourself a training plan, starting with a recovery block to help you get over the marathon. If you haven’t chosen a goal, you can be really flexible with your running and design an all-round exercise plan that features running. It’s up to you!

#6 Eat for recovery

What you eat and drink this week could really help you recover faster. Your body is crying out for hydration and good nutrition right now. If in doubt, drink more water. Herbal tea and squash count too. But aim for as much plain water as you can – that’s the good stuff. In terms of nutrition, build your meals around protein, lots of vegetables, healthy natural carbohydrates, and get some healthy fats from oily fish if you can. Enjoy some treats too, of course! But do remember that your body and your brain have a different idea of what a “treat” is – so show your hard-working body that you appreciate its efforts.

#7 Listen to your body

Tune into your body – it will tell you what it needs. Extra sleep? A good stretch? A walk outside to stretch the legs and clear the mind? Or a hearty home cooked meal (or maybe even a big chicken salad!)

#8 Sleep (or nap!)

One of the things your body might tell you is “more sleep, please!” Actual sleep might not be easy if you’ve got a busy schedule, but do try to go to bed a little bit earlier (most of us can cut back on the last-thing-at-night faffing if we try!) And if you get the chance to nap, take it. When you get good quality sleep, your body and mind get a chance to repair.

#9 Talk about it

How are you actually feeling after your marathon? IT’s common to have the post-race blues. Or maybe you want to talk to everyone about how the day went. Either way, reaching out to like-minded people and sharing your feelings will help you recover from the race. Join a group, post on our Facebook page, chat to your training partners, or write it all down in your training journal.

#10 Home remedies

There are plenty of things you can do to speed up recovery without going to a physio or sports massage therapist. Epsom Salts (magnesium) in a warm bath is amazing for muscle soreness, magnesium deficiency, and to help you sleep better. Buy in bulk and pour in at least a cupful. Add essential oils like lavender if you enjoy the smell. Keep a cooling leg and foot spray or lotion in the fridge (and if you can persuade someone to give you a leg and foot rub, even better!) Do a bit of stretching or yoga (there are plenty of free videos online). And remember to keep drinking water.

Well done – you’re a marathoner!