How to recover well after a marathon?
The recovery of a marathon is an essential step in a preparation plan that runners neglect all too often.
Unfortunately, if you don't prepare for recovery, you will increase the risk of injury, as well as the recovery time your body needs ... and that is not necessarily good for your health.
More often than not, runners who do not follow a good post-marathon recovery plan stagnate in their next performance, or suffer from symptoms of overtraining.
Today we're going to give you the best ways to recover from a marathon. This article will talk about the scientific evidence behind post-marathon fatigue, so you know what your body is going through, and you can prepare your run for peak performance.
Then we will provide you with a post marathon recovery plan to help you recover in the best possible way. Discover all our recovery products
What happens to my body when I run a marathon?
Marathons are hard on the body, no question.
The muscles, hormones, tendons, cells and almost all physiological systems are pushed to the maximum during the test.
Whether you are an experienced marathoner or a simple amateur, 42km are 42km. Your body is under enormous physical strain as well as the stress you put on it during your preparation.
Here is a list of some of the physiological systems affected during a marathon as well as their recovery time.
Muscle pain and fatigue are the most obvious case of damage caused by the body's running on marathon distance.
A scientific study of the calf muscles of marathon runners concluded that intensive training and the marathon itself induce inflammation and necrosis of muscle fibers that dramatically alter power and muscle durability for 14 days after the marathon.
As a result, it will take your muscles about 2 weeks after the marathon to return to their full strength.
=> Cell damage
Cell damage after the marathon, which includes oxidative damage, increased creatinine kinase (CK) production - a marker that indicates skeletal and myocardial tissue damage, and increased myoglobin levels in the blood stream which often causes the appearance of blood in the urine).
One study concluded that CK damage persists more than 7 days after the marathon while another study confirmed the presence of myoglobin in the bloodstream 3-4 days after the race.
These two studies clearly indicate that the body needs at least 7-10 rest days after the marathon to fully recover from the cellular damage caused during the race.
These markers, along with a suppressed immune system, is the main reason why the optimal marathon recovery program avoids the over-training phenomenon the first 2-3 days.
=> Immune system
Post marathon, the immune system is highly tested, which increases the risk of getting colds and flu.
In addition, a weakened immune system is one of the main causes of overtraining. A recent study confirms that the immune system is compromised for up to three days after the marathon and is a major factor in overtraining syndrome.
Therefore, it is essential that you rest as much as possible within three days of a marathon and concentrate on eating nutrient-dense and healthy foods.
Research clearly indicates that the marathon induces significant muscle, cell and immune system damage during 3 14 days after the race.
Therefore, it is essential that all marathon runners have a weekly 2-3 Marathon Recovery Protocol that focuses on rest and rejuvenation of these physiological systems. Discover all our recovery products
How to recover after running a marathon
We will describe a program of nutrition, rehabilitation, cross training and execution for the 3 weeks following a marathon. This rehabilitation plan will help you recover faster and return to training as quickly as possible.
=> Immediately after the race
The immediate post-race recovery protocol can be a bit difficult to plan ahead.
Focus your energy mostly on nutrition and pre-race strategy. These points are just there to give you post-race advice.
- After crossing the finish line, try to get yourself to put something warm on your back. You are likely to get cold very quickly, and while it won't help you recover, warming up will make you feel much better.
- Try to find something to eat. Bananas, recovery bars, the drinks recovery, fruit and bread are all good options.
Many marathon runners cannot eat soon after finishing, wait a bit and eat on the way home.
- For the bravest of you, a cold bath will be very effective at recovery.
Fill the tub with ice and cold water and immerse your legs for 15 minutes. You do not need water that is too cold.
After your ice bath, you can take a nap or stroll to try to relax your legs.
At this point, you've done everything you can do for the day. Relax well.
=> Days 1-3
Cross Training: None either
Tips and tricks of recovery:
Soak your legs in a cold bath (and yes again!) For 10-15 and stretch well afterwards.
Eat fruits, carbohydrates and proteins. Carbohydrates and protein will help repair muscle damage while fruits will give you a shot of vitamin C and antioxidants to help fight free radical damage and boost your immune system.
A light massage will help relax your muscles. Do not plan yet a deep tissue massage, just a gentle massage / effleurage or a gentle roll with the stick.
=> Days 4-7
Training: One day, 2 to 4 km cool.
Two days later, an easy effort from 30 to 40 minutes. The focus is on the functioning of the blood flow to the legs, not on the construction of a physical conditioning.
Tips and tricks for recovery: Keep eating a healthy diet.
Now, this is the time when you can get a deep tissue massage if you have areas that really bother you or are injured.
Contrasting cold-warm bath of the lower body. To contrast the bath, take large garbage bags and fill one with hot water (hot bath temperature) and the other with ice water (cold enough so that the ice does not melt). Put your whole body in the cold. Hold for 5 minutes, then keep warm for 5 minutes. Repeat 2 or 3 times, ending with cold. This helps to rush blood in and out of the area, which aids healing.
About an hour before bedtime, massage your legs with a stick or self-massager, then soak them in a hot tub with 3 cups of salt and 1 cup of baking soda for 10 to 15 minutes. After soaking, stretch yourself really well and relax.
=> Days 7-14
Race: three or four days from 6 to 9 kms very easy.
Transverse training: optional - Three total sessions. A single session and two average effort sessions during 30 at 45 minutes.
=> Days 14-21
Training: Start slowly rebuilding a complete run. Four to five sets of 4 to 8km with 4 x 20 seconds of walk after each race.
1 easy session, 1 average session and 1 session lasts from 40 to 50 minutes.
Note that it is much more important to ensure a good recovery so that you can train even better on your next running goal.
If you don't allow yourself to recover enough, you'll just roll back your good workouts and put yourself on the verge of overtraining.
Try not to plan a serious race until 6 weeks after your marathon.
We can imagine that the desire will be there. However, your results won't be as good as they could be if you don't wait a few weeks and let your body rest properly. Discover all our recovery products
Patience is a virtue, and it will pay off in the end!
Discover now our products dedicated to marathons.
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