During marathon training, we spend hours upon hours each week pushing our bodies and testing our limits. But you can’t redline all the time without experiencing a breakdown. You can help prevent this by focusing on recovery during training as well as after the marathon itself.
Recovery can be tough, because we always want to be up and running and working towards goals. Remember, it’s a key part of training, and helps you stay strong and healthy. Give yourself time to recharge on rest days and during the period following the race. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
Following are a few ways to help yourself recover stronger and faster, and to do it without feeling guilty for doing “less” than normal.
What to do:
Get some sleep!
Sleep is important time for your body to repair itself and extra sleep also helps boost your immune system.
Take easy runs, EASY
Running slower on your easy days allows the body to recover and prepare to push harder on the quality run days. Following hard workouts and races, it’s especially important to back off on distance and pace for a few days. The longer the workout/race, the longer recovery period should be.
Rest days, should be REST days
Take advantage of your rest days, and actually rest. This doesn’t mean go and do intense cross training or boot camp classes- use the time to unwind and focus on some other life priorities. Exercise will be there the following day, and the day after.
Fuel shortly after runs
The first 30 minutes after a workout is the most important in terms of recovery fueling. Ideally you want a protein and carbohydrate filled snack, have it handy so it’s there when you’re done running.
Stretching, foam rolling, ice baths, hot Epsom salt baths and getting massages help bodies stay healthy and recover quickly. Recovery apparel, such as compression socks/sleeves, are great tools to use whenever you want–wear them to work or to sleep and even when running.
How to make it happen (without feeling guilty):
Put rest days on a calendar like you would a doctor’s appointment. Blocking it off can help remind you that it’s important, but don’t be afraid to take an unplanned rest day if you feel you need it.
Give it even a few minutes
Making a point to sit down and stretch/foam roll for even a few minutes before bed each night can be a manageable way to fit it in. Before you know it, it will just become habit and won’t feel like it’s taking over your day.
Make plans for off days
Rest days during training, and the days following the marathon are great times to schedule some fun plans with friends, family or solo. Celebrate your training accomplishments and the success of reaching the finish line, while enjoying good company.
Make it fun
Running with friends is a great way to make those slower easy runs more enjoyable. New routes also mix things up and give you a new place to explore while getting time on the feet.
This is a big one, particularly after the marathon itself. Stop counting your calories, leave the step counter on your dresser and simply go about your days without worrying about the numbers. Seeing lower numbers than you’re used to can add a stress/guilt factor, so stop counting everything and just enjoy recovery! Eat what you want and rest when you want, you trained and ran a marathon- embrace the down time!