What to Do After A Marathon
If you taking part in the impending London marathon or have others in the calendar, you might have your pre marathon plan sorted, but have you thought about your post marathon plan? While it’s vital to prepare yourself mentally and physically before the race, knowing what to do for optimum recovery afterwards is just as important. Here are our top tips.
Refuelling after the race isn’t just about hydration, although that is key, it’s also about getting enough carbs and protein into your body to aid the trauma that your muscles have essentially been put through. And when it comes to hydration, water is great, but it’s not enough. When you sweat you lose electrolytes, as well as energy, which can put stress on your body. For that reason, sports drinks are great post run as they contain all the glucose, fluids, and electrolytes that need replenishing. Aim to drink around 500ml in the first half an hour after your run then around every five to 10 minutes until you have reached your target.
Take a break
Depending on how your race goes, you may feel like you never want to run again, or like you can’t wait to get back out there. Whatever the case, it is important to let your body rest and recover so avoid any running for about a week after the race so as not to cause more impact stress to your body. Things like swimming, yoga or cycling are a better option as they’re not weight bearing but will keep your muscles moving and your blood flowing. When you do start running again, make sure you take it slowly and build your time and intensity back up gradually. When your muscles have been so overused, you’re at greater risk of injury so take it easy.
Deep sleep is when growth hormones are released, and muscle growth and repair are maximised so make the most of your training-free evenings to get to bed earlier and get more deep and restorative sleep. It’s also vital for mood regulation which can be important if you’re experiencing a ‘post marathon low’, which many people do experience after spending so long planning and training for the big event.
Protect your health
Putting your body under such strain for so long means your immune system will likely be compromised and you’ll be more susceptible to picking up bugs. With that in mind stay away from anyone with colds or germs. The last thing you want when your whole body already aches is more caused by a nasty cold.
Ice, then heat
If you want to take a cold shower or plunge yourself in an ice bath, the immediate aftermath of your race is a good time to do it. That’s because cold temperatures restrict blood flow which can help reduce discomfort, swelling and inflammation. After a couple of days, it’s all about heat so warm baths should be a part of your recovery plan because of the way they encourage blood flow to the muscles which helps them heal.