Marathon Recovery

Marathon recovery is different for everyone but I do suggest allowing the body ample recovery time.  Regardless of whether you had a good or bad race, the itch to run is a powerful one.  I know you want to get back out there and hit the trail.  Is that wise?  Well, let’s think about that for a minute. 

think about it

Was this marathon was an “A” race?  If a person ran hard to meet a goal, regardless of whether the goal was accomplished or not, then that person needs more rest than others.  Effort, both perceived and actual, exhausts the body and mind requiring more time for recovery.  So, did you run hard?  If the answer is yes, then you need a good recovery plan with lots of focus on nutrition, protein intake, rehabbing the muscles thru rolling, icing, stretching, chiropractic and/or massage therapy.  Take care of the body that takes care of you!! 

Take Care of Your Body

People who “race” marathons need WAY more recovery time than those of us who run but never really leave our comfort zone.  I’m frequently asked how I run so many marathons a year.  Well, I never used to run a lot of marathons.  I used to only run one per year.  But I ran harder!  Way harder.  And I was tore up afterwards for a much longer period.  Over the years, my body has adjusted to the mileage demands but in return, I never really ask it to push itself.  I run slow and try to be steady.  If there is a nasty hill, I walk up that hill.  I keep things pretty chill.  For me, the ability to keep running is way more important than my finish time.  It took me years to learn that.  While it’s not a philosophy that would make everyone happy, it works for me.  Running is one of the few things that gives me peace.  It quiets my mind and soul.  I don’t have to think or I get to think about whatever I like.  So its important to me to stay healthy and keep moving.  Now how do we keep you moving forward?  Proper recovery!

  • Take in Protein, Carbs & Water immediately after the marathon.  This serves a couple purposes in bringing the glycogen levels back up (since you depleted them!) and getting the recovery process started! The optimal carb to protein ratio for recovery is 3:1 or 4:1 depending on who you ask.  We need between 10-20 grams of protein for proper recovery, so that means we need 40-60g of carbs.  Too difficult to do the math?  Plan ahead so you don’t have to think.  Stash your recovery food/drink in your check bag.  If they hand out chocolate milk at the finish line, your golden, drink it.  I use the AdvoCare Post Workout Recovery drink so I don’t have to do the math.  Start refueling as soon as you get across the finish line, it can make a difference on how you feel not only for the rest of the day but also for the rest of the week!  Don’t let a nauseous tummy stop you from eating.  Food is what you need to start feeling better. 
  • Rehydrate.  This is so obvious but I’d be negligent if I didn’t stress its importance.  I normally chug a bottle of water as soon as I cross the finish line.  I get the water down and my recovery drink ASAP.   Less to carry.  Puts me on the recovery fast track.
  • Stretch or Roll as soon as you can.  I keep “The Stick” in my car or hotel room.  If I forget it, I borrow one.  It’s important.  The act of rolling increases the blood flow to achy muscles, tendons & ligaments.  The faster the blood gets moving, the faster the recovery process.  The blood starts working to heal those microscopic muscle tears that cause soreness.
  • Compress.  Thought compression was a joke or a object of commercialism to steal more of our hard earned $$?  It’s not.  Compression works.  If you are in a bad way, compress the entire lower body with compression tights or a compression shorts & compression socks combo. Compression does the same thing the rolling does, but that doesn’t mean you can skip the rolling.  Compression keeps the blood flowing even when you are sitting or driving home.  Compress today, feel good tomorrow. 
  • Ice.  I know you hate those dang ice baths but it’s the quickest way to handle swelling in the lower extremities.  You can knock out icing the hips, quads, hamstrings, knees, calves, ankles & feet ….. all at once.  Looks like a better deal now, right?  Sit in the empty tub, start filling with cold water, add ice once water is above hips.  Sit for 15 minutes.  Yeah, it sucks but it’s work it.
  • Stay on top of food/hydration throughout the week.  You’ll be hungry.  Eat.  Lean proteins, good carbs, fruits/veggies and drink lots of water to flush the lactic acid out of your mucles.  Try not to eat all the Halloween Candy.  But if you do, refocus the next day and start again.  I keep a high quality protein drink handy at all times.  Once again, I’m an AdvoCare user/distributor so I use AdvoCare Muscle Gain.  I also have an ace up my sleeve and use the AdvoCare Nighttime Recovery on days leading up to/away from the marathon when my legs are heavy/sore.  I’m sure there are other great products on the market, feel free to use what you like, this is what has worked for me over the last 9 years.  I mention it so that you know to look for something extra when you are struggling with recovery.  I have it down to a science at this point.  Find what works for you.
  • Light activity for the week (or more) following the race.  I avoid running for 3-4 days.  Then I just go slow and get the blood flowing.  I practice yoga, stretch, swim and cycle when I don’t run.  I never stop moving but I can’t run every day like some people, so I need to switch it up.  This will also prevent burnout from intense training plans by doing non-running things post marathon. 
  • Rest.  Sleep.  Go out for dinner & drinks with hubby.  Enjoy some free time, not related to “the run”.

What has worked best for you for fast recovery?  Tell us!  Everyone is different and we need as many tips as possible! 

** Speedy Recovery Wishes ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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One thought on “Marathon Recovery

  1. WOW…TTF…somehow I feel some of my ranting posts and mail and such gave you some idea for a post? If so…cool and I am flattered. If coincidence…then we on the same wavelength! Everything you say on subject is about as good as a “Coach” can be!

    I will only add or clarify…in reference to running hard (cause doesn’t everyone feel they run hard in a marathon?)…my reference to effort is based on relative % HR intensity. The typical coaching standard is you can expect to run maximum marathon performance at ca 1-2% less than threshold pace. What’s that mean? Well threshold is the point lactate accumulates in blood faster than it can be cleared and reprocessed as fuel by muscle cells. When that accumulation exceeds what physiology can clear in lactate…free hydrogen ions accumulate…and if you recall your chemistry…acid environment is measured in H+ ions roaming about.

    Given that…everyone has a widely varying lactate threshold. For me…it translates into ca 85% HR max. when I run beyond that intensity for extended duration…going to eventually come to a screaming halt. As comparison…top world elite marathonees (mostly Kenyan and Ethiopian), have such great economy in form, training and genetics…they probably running marathon pace somewhere around 90% or slightly more than HRmax.

    I on the other hand…if in my best training and conditioning…lucky if I can run at 85% of my HR max. Now there is the distinction…your HR-max. That varies with every individual and their efficiency in terms of threshold level…dependent on genetics…degree and level of training…and more. You can determine your threshold pace…paying big bucks to get tested on treadmill equipment by a professional…but I usually get a good approximation doing “threshold” testing on my own wearing a HR monitor. I can provide you of graphs based on me as the guinea-pig if it helps illustrate and understand the principles.

    Even my brother…a retired chemistry teacher who knows how to do oh-so much calculations in the world of chemistry…while back at his house in Indy post race…commented oh-ya…Indianapolis fellow won that marathon in 2:17 something. My brother’s response, “You are twice as slow as the winner!” What I tried to remind him is said winner is just far more efficient runner than I…but we were likely running at maximium aerobic capacity…at least for the winner the entire race….and me…that busted by 17-miles…at least was running “equivalent or relative” intensity the first half of that marathon.

    Does that make sense to any or some of you? Speed is relative to inensity. That intensity of the effort is what dictates just how much recovery you need post-finish.

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