Whether it’s your first marathon or your fiftieth, completing this test of endurance is an incredible achievement. It’s great to take a moment to bask in the glory and appreciate your body for all it’s done to carry you over the finish line. But the work doesn’t stop here - now is the time to focus on your recovery!
It’s easy to put all your energy into training in preparation for the 26.2 and give little thought to the recovery process afterwards, especially if this was your first time running a marathon. However, supporting your body post-marathon is just as important, and will ensure that you can continue running in the long term (whether you’re planning another marathon, or just returning to your weekly jog around the park).
As our clinic is based in Camden, following the London marathon each year our team of osteopaths and physiotherapists will see lots of patients who’ve taken part, and one question that comes up time and time again is how to speed up recovery after such a major event. While patience is key here, there are a few things you can do to support your recovery. We’ve gathered our top tips below:
1.Take a break from running
How long you should wait before lacing up your running shoes again will vary greatly between individuals, but most coaches recommend 3-7 days off. To be on the safe side, our physiotherapists recommend a full week off as a general rule.
The most important thing here is to listen to your body. Still feeling tired and sore? Give yourself a few more days.
You’ll have lost lots of fluids during the marathon, so it’s vital to hydrate over the next few hours and days. Sipping small amounts of water constantly throughout the rest of the day will be more beneficial than downing a litre at once, so keep a water bottle close by. Avoid alcohol and coffee, which can have a diuretic effect.
Refuel your body as soon as possible after the race, aiming to consume carbohydrates and protein in particular, which will help to repair depleted muscles straight away and reboot your energy stores.
Have a light snack handy for after you cross the finish line (such as a protein bar or protein shake), and try to eat a balanced meal as soon as you feel up to it afterwards.
4. Keep moving
Although it may be feel like the last thing you want to do, try to walk for 10-15 minutes after you stop running. This will help your body flush out lactic acid and re-oxygenate tired muscles, and you’ll thank yourself for it later!
While plenty of rest is important over the next few days, keeping up with some gentle, low impact exercise will maintain a steady flow of oxygen to your muscles and aid in their recovery.
5. Consider a massage
Not only is this a great way to treat yourself after all your hard work, massage is also an excellent tool for muscle recovery. Be sure to specify a sports massage, as some types of massage (such as deep tissue), can do more harm than good to strained muscles. Checking in with a license physiotherapist will help you determine which treatment is best suited to your recovery, and what to avoid.
Still suffering from post-marathon aches and pains, or looking for support preparing for your race? Book a session with our expert team of osteopaths and physiotherapists, who can help treat any lingering soreness at our Camden clinic.