Broadly speaking, most athletes are pretty lax with their recovery. You’ve completed your event, and all you want to do is get comfy on the sofa and enjoy your latest box set, or you’re looking to get straight back to training and other races. The latter is more likely to hinder your performance, limiting the time your body has to recover from the significant demands that you have placed upon it.
At HLM Sports Therapy we’ve put together our top tips to get you back out running whilst giving yourself the crucial time to reflect on your recent event before you make emotionally influenced decisions about your next aims and aspirations.
Eat and drink well
After all your training you deserve to treat yourself in the week following a race, but make sure it is in moderation. It is still vital to have a good intake of carbohydrates and protein to help your muscles heal. Don’t start a diet or calorie reduction in the first week, your body needs all the macro and micronutrients of a well-rounded and balanced diet to recover.
After any sporting event lactic acid will build up and scar tissue can form. Massage can help to prevent these and aid your recovery. If you can’t get a massage, foam rolling and self- massage can also help to break down your knots and trigger points.
Resting doesn’t have to mean doing nothing at all. Gentle exercise such as walking and cycling will help to loosen your stiff joints after your long run. Make sure you stretch after, focussing primarily on your legs and glutes.
Once you’ve completed your run, many people feel a loss of direction. For months training has been taking up the last of your free time, and now you don’t know that to do with yourself. This is widely known as post-marathon blues. Here are a few things which can help:
Sleep: As with your tapering week, sleep is vital in the week following the completion of your marathon. Your body needs time to recover. Exhaustion following the event often contributes to these feelings of being “directionless”
Set new goals: Once you have taken time out and recovered from running, think what your next goal is going to be. Maybe another marathon? Or swap road running with trail running? Perhaps you don’t want to run again and want to challenge yourself in a different way. Whatever it is, setting goals will help you to refocus after your marathon training is no longer taking up your spare time.
Congratulate yourself: Allowing yourself to feel good about finishing the marathon is vital. Don’t just dismiss your achievement and rush onto the next. Taking the time to enjoy the feeling of achievement after your run can help later in our next training cycle, motivating you to continue.
Give yourself time: Not everyone wants to get back into running straight after they have completed a marathon, and that’s perfectly okay. If you want to take some time out, and running simply doesn’t sound like something you want to be doing, then give yourself the time you need. Forcing yourself to continue will take the enjoyment out of it.
Gradually build back into running
If you do want to continue running, gradually increase your milage again. To start, make sure you take a week off running completely after the marathon, but make sure you keep active- walking, cycling and swimming can prove to work wonders with aiding your recovery. Intensity should be light (a pace you can comfortably hold a conversation at), and shouldn’t be too long- nothing more than 60 minutes.
After the first week of recovery you can start to think about running again (If you want to!). Take your time and gradually increase distance and speed, listen to your body and don’t push yourself too much. As a rough guide it will take one day for each mile of the marathon before your body is back feeling ready for higher intensity training.
These are just a few things which you can do to help your recovery after your race. This blog post is not designed to replace a complete medical assessment, if you would like an extra helping hand to recover from your event, contact us.