The marathon is an epic physical feat. Your body undergoes some serious stress so it’s important to be as proactive with your recovery as you were with your marathon training. Here are Richie and Alex’s top tips for post-marathon recovery:
1. Re-fuel & re-hydrate
Alex: It’s important to get those thousands of calories back in that you’ve just burned, not only after the race but over the next week too. While your body repairs itself it will continue to use energy. So keep fuelling! It’s easy to reach for junk food because you feel like you’ve earned it but don’t forget lots of good quality nutrition. Focus on high protein, lots of veg and healthy fats (omega 3 fatty acids), as these are anti-inflammatory power houses! When you have a well hydrated body, it will perform better in the delivery of essential nutrients, as well as removing toxins and waste products. Stay hydrated to speed up recovery!
Richie: Before you feast on everything you’ve denied yourself during pre-marathon preparation, add a big pinch of Himalayan salt to your water or sports drink, and make a smoothie for after the race packed with the essentials that will nourish your insides. My go to is coconut water, bananas, spinach, blueberries, oats and good plant-based protein powder.
2. Rest. And more rest.
Alex: I probably don’t need to mention this one, as it’ll be one of the first things you want to do after you finish! When you’re sleeping is the only time your body truly starts repairing itself and healing so make sure you get good quality and lengthy sleep.
Richie: Your body needs some well-earned recovery sleep, so don’t set an alarm if you can and wake up when your body is ready. When you do eventually surface, drink more water as the body will need it.
3. Move and stretch
Alex: You may want to sit and do nothing but you’ll feel much worse! Keep moving with low intensity exercises, do some stretches and foam rolling, and get a massage too. Keeping the blood moving will increase your recovery time.
Richie: Keep moving for about 30 minutes after the marathon to prevent blood pooling in your legs. Stay warm, even though you may be sweaty and your core temp is high. This will drop pretty rapidly. Change into dry clothes, wrap yourself in the foil handouts or get some warm kit on ASAP. Even though you may not feel like moving, going for a walk or very light jog, helps get the blood flowing to the legs and provides you with feedback to see what parts of the body need attention in the coming days.
4. Hot and cold therapy
Richie: I’m a big fan of this treatment after seeing results in my own performance and spending time learning from pioneers like Brain McKenzie and Wim Hoff. Research shows that when we jump from a full body hot to cold immersion, it improves the rush of oxygenated blood to the micro tears and other trauma of the damaged tissues (mainly your legs) helping you repair much faster. If you don’t have the luxury of a sauna/ hot tub and an ice bath after the race, getting in a hot shower and then switching it to cold for 1-minute intervals for a few rounds will do the job.
5. Treat yourself to some TLC
Richie: No matter your level or ability, no one seems to escape the wear and tear during a marathon in some form. The steady repetitive impact on the joints and muscles can lead to stress fractures, musculature imbalance and millions of micro tears on a cellular level. Anything from blisters to full body realignment is vital to getting you healed and back to full power. Treating yourself to a massage and getting some professional treatment from a sports therapist can not only speed up the process, it can also help you identify injuries that can then be prevented next time by adding new pre-hab exercises into your program.
Be safe, run smart, have fun!
Fiit launches on Tuesday 24th April. If you need post-marathon recovery, head to our Rebalance studio.