I’m not a marathon pro, but I’ve run a few of them and I have done my fair share of things wrong. You learn from your mistakes, right?
It’s prime marathon season right now and I figured I would offer up a few tips on how to recover from a marathon. Some do it right, and some do it wrong and I am pretty sure the biggest reason why I got my stress fracture was because I didn’t properly recover from the Vermont Marathon.
After Vermont, I took 1 whole week off of all exercise, but after that I jumped back into running, and while it wasn’t a whole lot of miles, I also added in a lot of strength training and it obviously didn’t work out for me.
Here’s my list of dos and don’ts when it comes to recovering from a long distance event.
- Lift weights
- Do squats and lunges
- Think you’re exempt from traditional recovery
- and certainly…don’t run doubles!
- Drink beer
- Rehydrate (with Nuun!)
- Get some extra Vitamin C
- Catch up on your social life
- and of course, celebrate!
Personally, I recommend at least 1 week of no running after a marathon, but 2 would be even better. In your second week, I would recommend cross training and doing anything without impact, i.e. the bike or elliptical. Stay away from weights and leg exercises.
An easy run will be tempting and will most likely feel pretty good, but marathons trash your quads and extra stress is put on your bones that your body is not used to. You might feel good, but your muscles and bones are still repairing themselves, I promise you that.
Every person is different and unless you’re super woman, like Laura who eats marathons for breakfast, I recommend chilling out after a long distance event.
Why runners are prone to stress fractures
Bone, like most tissue in the body, can adapt and become stronger when it’s subjected to a stress. However, unlike muscles and tendons, which can adapt and strengthen in a period of days or weeks, it takes many months for bone to become stronger after it’s been put under an increased level of stress.
In fact, there’s even a window of about a month where bone becomes weaker after an increase in training stress because of the way the body remodels bone. Your body first tears out some walls in the bone structure before it can put in new ones, much like remodeling your house.
The stress mentioned above is the marathon you just ran. Remember to be smart, be patient, and rest. My motto is always; “Do you want to run right now or for the rest of your life?” Rushing recovery won’t do anything but prolong it.
Disclaimer: This is all just my opinion. Nothing is scientifically proven and you can tell me how wrong I am if you want. These are the steps I will follow after my next marathon. Take it or leave it.
PS. I created a Facebook page for my blog, which feels kind of weird, but I would appreciate some likes! 🙂