How to Recover from a Marathon, The 7 Day Plan

I’ll preface this post by stating again that I’m not a coach, nor do I pretend to be, and recovery is different for everyone. This is the TTF version.

Immediately following the marathon – Drink a Recovery Drink, Ice, Roll, Compress & Pray

Day 1 – Eat Pizza and Drink Beer (water is good too!)
Day 2 – Light stretching, yoga if you dare. More water.

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Day 3 – Water, Stretching, Light walk with the kiddos, swim if you have access to a pool because it will help with any latent swelling.
Day 4 – Water, Stretching, See your Chiro or go get a massage to milk those muscles and give your body some TLC! You’re probably ready to run by now if you’re not injured but I caution holding off another couple days unless you are Superwoman. If you must, try the elliptical and see how your legs and joints feel after some non-imact type “running”.
Day 5 – Spin! Biking using a stationary bike or just getting out on the road will stretch out your muscles and give your quads a good workout. Don’t be surprised if they are still tired!
Day 6 – Don’t shoot me, Frogger! I would definitely run by Saturday if I hadn’t already and I was feeling good. Keep it short and sweet. Nothing fast. Nothing exciting. Don’t try to keep up with local run club, no matter how tempting.
Day 7 – As The Lord says, it’s a rest day. Particularly after a marathon the previous weekend. Take this time to let your body refresh and heal. Please don’t go into another intense training plan right away. If your mortal, you will need some downtime. That means downtime for the body. And the mind. Rest, Relax, Rehab. It’s important so that your body repairs properly.

Most take the first two weeks after a marathon easy. I know I do. Of course, every BODY is different and you need to do what’s best for you but a couple weeks to a month completely off is going to do more good than harm. Better safe than sorry, right?

Marathon, train, compete in cycles. Every up cycle needs a down swing. For me, I will follow up this marathon cycle with triathlon training. I’ll still be busy but I’ll be focusing more on the swim and bike and less on the run. It will allow my body to heal and hopefully come back to 100% before I try this “thing” called marathon again. But I’ll be out for blood in October at Chicago so watch out. Marathon, you have not beaten me but I respect you and my body enough to take a break and down cycle in order to go after it good in the summer/fall. Watch out.

** Don’t Forget to Recover ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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5 thoughts on “How to Recover from a Marathon, The 7 Day Plan

  1. TTF…no shoot… you got the basic concept…be easy and don’t rush it! I have shifted to more of a 4-week recovery and not push getting back to running so quickly, but that is qualified with I am a lot older and some of these marathons i am running are at pretty peak performance for my age. So…like the elites…take time off and enjoy it…no schedules…just easy stuff! I liked one elite marathoner referring to his 4-week off-cycle as “fattening-up”…wow…an elite that enjoys the weight gain and in fat! He knows there will be plenty of time to give it back…I guess.

    And to confess…I have run…fairly easy at 10-min pace or slightly less at last Monday’s Tribute One Boston Fund Fun Run at RFK. Tonight I may do Moon Run with PFRPC….but not far and very easy.

    One thing you may have left out in that recovery. Use the foam roller and roll those hammies and quads, and the glutes and along the side where piriformis is. Dr. Pappas got me doing 3 foam roller routines each day to help “loosen” tight muscles. I think it helps not only for trying to contend with my degenerative disc referred pain issue, but seems to me the foam roller loosening tight muscles would be perfect for everyone’s post-marathon recovery tool bag.

    Never worry bout me shooting ya…you know what to do…far younger…know yourself well and what to do based on signs and/or symptoms. Sometimes I learn a few tips from you that I actually use!

    My comments were only intended to be cautionary and for those to pay close attention to recovery. And…as you already know…the concept of “recovery” varies immensely among runners and coaches and from elites to competitive amateur to the more mortal mid and back of pack runners. Boonsoom Hartman is a big exception as are some of those Ultra-Runners out there…but eventually continual stress on muscles and hammering the immune system will eventually catch up in some form. And…the older you get…the more you have to pay attention to this…cause the body takes longer to rebuild from the trauma. All of it is common sense.

    If you are one that seems to be able to jump back into the distance running game within a week, or do those back-to-back marathons….then you probably have body that has quicker turnover…or you just didn’t run race to maximum performance and ran the race more forgiving and hence can go right back and run long again. Sometimes I question Disney’s Goofy Challenge and that is makes no sense to run long-distance races in seriers back-to-back days. I guess those that do it know themselves well and adjust their running intensity accordingly to even out the effort (and corresponding stress) evenly that doesn’t break body down as much.

    If you walked half-marathon distance one day and the next walked full marathon distance the next day…far less trauma to a conditioned runner than running them at all out effort…or running half at somewhat reduced effort…then marathon at maximum effort. And effort is best measured in HR intensity. These factors…as well as one’s training and conditioning coming into race…as well as your age and history of injuries and other issues…all factors in the equation….just how much time off and just what you need to do to fully recover.

    I do know that with what you have described with your training coming into Lansing Marathon…how you fared in the race….and what you describe post-race in what hurts or aches…I do know you need to pay close attention to recovery. Does that mean you shouldn’t or can’t run after 7-days? Absolutely not…but I know you will keep it comparatively short and feeling easy. No need to push anything at this point. And I like hearing about those other things you doing that are in training mode often called “x-training” but in the context of recovery mode…they are therapy to help promote circulation, loosen tight muscles…allow tissue to regenerate and physiology to find normal base. There is no need to rush it and just take it easy in all and whatever you do.

    I have no problem finding how long I should take. I do know that after a marathon, even when leg muscles have no aches…no pain…feel fine…when I try my first run….they just won’t work…can only run really slow…and if I try hard to run that marathon pace or faster…bad things happen. That’s me…not you. And every runner has to find that schema of what it takes to recover properly. Remember…recovery is short-term with restoring fluid and electrolyte balance and getting protein and other nutrients to rebulid and get rid of sore leg muscles. That usually goes away 3-4 days post race and runners often say they are recovered because they have no aches, pains and seemingly can run again. But there is the long-term aspect of recovery that both mind and body sometimes require in order to get back to maximum running capacity. Elites know this and follow it. Others (and I have done it myself early on)…keep running and going back into these marathons under the guise they have recovered and getting stronger. That may happen…but it is short-term gain and cumulative effects eventually manifest themselves…sooner in many…way down the road in others.

    You will do fine…cause you outlined what you are doing and you are keeping track how you feeling and responding. And…I know you have no big long-distance race upcoming…or do you? OK…run Mel’s half…just don’t try to PR or run half-marathon at full potential. Your goal can be to finish that half feeling like you could go back out and do it again!

    • I’m not quite ready to run yet. I still have a pain in my “bum”. We are trying to work it out but it pulls when I walk so I know that running would be either very light or possibly I should just skip it. 🙂

  2. These are all great points. I just ran a marathon last Saturday and am thinking a lot about what I want to do for recovery workouts. I sat on my butt yesterday and won’t be doing any formal exercise today, but I might try to squeeze in a bit of slow running tomorrow if my legs will let me. I suppose that every marathon recovery plan is different because every marathon is different, depending on how prepared you were. Good luck with your recovery!

  3. Pingback: CrossFit Day 29 & 30 | TooTallFritz

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