You ran the London Marathon on Sunday. What now?
by Matt Hodges
30 April 2015
The finish line may be a distant memory, but that doesn’t mean that your marathon experience is over. In the week after the marathon your muscles will ache like never before, you will be absolutely starving – all the time (!), and your feet will be cut and sore.
A marathon is an endurance test – it is supposed to be the toughest thing you can possibly put your body through (bar ultra athlete distances). Whether you are an elite sports person or an amateur runner, your marathon recovery period will take some time, and it is important that you do it right.
For elite athletes
The chances are you will already be preparing for your next race, but the worst thing you can do is throw yourself back into your training regime.
• If possible, have a sports massage at least once a week in the three weeks following the marathon. This will help speed up muscle recovery and prevent injury.
• If it’s up your street – enlist the help of professionals to support your recovery regime. Yoga is an excellent way of improving flexibility in your muscles, so hire a great yoga teacher who can show you how to exercise your whole body without putting undue pressure on your joints.
• While your pre-marathon diet will have been fairly carb-heavy, your post-marathon meals should centre around lean proteins such as turkey, chicken and fish. Organic protein supplements (such as shakes and bars) will also help you to build your muscle back up again, but make sure you are going for low salt, low sugar options as these can slow you down.
For amateur runners
If this was your first marathon, you probably don’t know what’s hit you. But don’t worry – you’re not alone! Many people experience extreme reactions in the aftermath of a marathon – from vomiting and diarrhoea, to muscle spasms, dehydration and just plain old exhaustion. Luckily, there are a few tried and tested methods that can aid your recovery and get you back to normal in record time.
• Stretching is useful both before and after a marathon, and a daily stretching routine will help enormously in the weeks after a marathon. You will find that your muscles feel stiffer in the mornings and evenings, so take 10 minutes to do a few basic stretching exercises before you go to bed and just after you wake up. Focus on your hamstrings, quads and glutes and hold each stretch for as long as you possibly can.
• Long distance running can wreak havoc on your posture. Even if you don’t have any back pain, it is worth booking an appointment with a qualified osteopath who will be able to identify any early back problems and suggest treatment if necessary.
• Water is your friend at this time. Drink litres of still water every day to help stave off dehydration and flush out your system. Soak in a hot bath filled with Epsom salts, for instant muscle relief. Or be inspired by the professionals and spend 10 minutes (or more!) in an ice bath – your tired muscles will thank you for it!