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Marathon Recovery 24 Hours to 1 Week After the Marathon

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Updated August 11, 2013

Marathon Recovery 24 Hours to 1 Week After the Marathon

The Week After the Marathon

  • Wear Your Medal and Shirt: You deserve to be celebrated, don't be shy about wearing your finishers shirt and even your medal to work or school the next day. I decided not to do so for a conference the next day, and arrived to find a doctor there wearing HER finishers shirt! Other marathoners will be happy for the chance to congratulate you and to regale you with their own experiences. You will be a role model to all of your friends and family.
  • Post-Marathon Blues: You will probably feel exhausted and depressed the week after the marathon. This is normal, expect it and plan for it. It goes away as you recover. Many perople experiences this, and we have advice on how to deal with the post-race blues. If it doesn't, seek medical help as the chemical changes in your body and brain could have tipped you over into clinical depression, which is a dangerous and life-threatening condition that can be reversed if caught early. Depression
  • Stiff and Sore: Expect muscles that you didn't know you had to hurt. As you tired during the marathon, your posture and gait changed so that surprising muscles got strained. The pain may be delayed, expect it to pop up for the next 2-4 days.
  • Massage: I schedule a relaxing professional 1-hour sports massage for the day after the marathon, and I have found it relieves almost all of the muscle pain and stiffness I used to get. Gentle massage is key - you want it to loosen up the knots and stiff muscles, but not to damage them further.
  • Post-Marathon Nutrition: Eat a balanced diet, your body will need carbs and protein and nutrients to rebuild damaged muscles. Do not resume a weight loss diet until after the first week. If you have cravings, indulge them moderately. You body may be telling you what it is missing. It may be missing veggies, fruits, and fish, but I doubt it's missing more than one serving of chocolate cake. Moderation!
  • Weight Gain Post-Marathon?: I always note a 2-4 pound weight gain immediately after the marathon, likely from water retention as your muscles repair and rebuild. Do not panic and start dieting, eat a balanced diet with enough nutrients to rebuild and repair your body. The bloat weight will probably come off within a week unless you have been overindulging in eating. But don't start or resume weight loss dieting for a week.
  • Resuming Your Walking: If you have blisters, your gait will be thrown off until they are healed, so limit your walking to 15-30 minutes at a time until they are healed. Your walks should be at a gentle pace, use them simply to loosen up the stiff muscles.
  • No Long Walks for 1 Week: Even if your feet are in good shape, limit your walks to under an hour the first week as you recover.
  • Sleep: Your body builds muscle and repairs itself while sleeping. Get lots of sleep after the marathon.

Full Recovery Phase

  • Getting Back Into Walking: Experts say to give yourself 4-6 weeks of recovery after a marathon before resuming any intense training or racing. I generally enjoy a 10K walk the weekend after the marathon, but you may want to limit yourself to an hour-long walk after the first week, saving the 10K for the second weekend after the marathon.
  • Nutrition and Diet: While recovering, you are likely walking fewer miles than during marathon training. After the first recovery week, adjust your calories according to your activity levels. You may have to track your food intake and adjust it if you begin to gain weight due to less activity. As always, eat a balanced diet high in vegetables, fruits, and other whole, nutritious foods.
  • Crosstraining: Balance your walking with other fun and healthy activities such as biking, swimming, strength training, core and balance training.
Next: Training for Your Next Half Marathon or Marathon: Periodization

Marathon Walking: > Choosing a Marathon

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