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The Importance Of Recovery After A Marathon

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Sep. 26, 2013
  • Updated Oct. 1, 2013 at 6:45 AM UTC

After months of training and 26.2 miles of racing, recovery should be your key concern. 

One of the biggest mistakes marathon runners make is not taking enough recovery time after finishing the race. After 26.2 miles of hard running, and the months of dedicated training that went into that effort, the body needs a break.

Understandably, for a dedicated runner, taking an unforced day off (or worse, a full week off), is about as enjoyable as a trip to the dentist for a root canal. Most runners have an irrational fear that missing a few runs will dramatically diminish their hard-earned fitness.

Moreover, putting your training on pause seems counter-intuitive after a great race – you want to capitalize on your fitness and continue to set new personal bests, right? Likewise, after a disappointing race, the last thing on your mind is resting; rather, you want revenge and you’re anxious to get back on the starting line as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, not taking enough time to fully recover after a marathon often leads to overtraining and injuries. Not only does resting for seven to ten days have little negative impact on your current fitness, the long-term gains will outweigh any temporary reduction in fitness.

RELATED: Creating An Optimal Long-Term Training Plan

Over the following pages, we’ll look at two reasons why you should consider taking some serious downtime after your marathon and provide you with proven scientific evidence as well as examples from some of the best runners in the world that support the benefits of a proper recovery period. Finally, we’ll outline a typical marathon recovery protocol so you can begin planning your next training segment.

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FILED UNDER: Recovery / Training TAGS: / /

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

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