So you’ve just ran your 10km marathon and are on an adrenaline high about your triumph. After months of training crossing that finish line makes it all feel worth it, but it doesn’t end there…Running long distances can put any body under a lot of stress. It is crucial that runners be aware and mindful of their post-marathon recovery plan to avoid the risk of injury and reduce the symptoms of muscular, skeletal and cellular damage and post-marathon fatigue.
If you feel unwell or have abnormal coloured urine, it might be best to seek medical advise. However for general muscle recovery post-run, here are five things to do to recover from a marathon
1. Keep it moving
The moment you cross that finish line, your legs will go from running to barely able to move. But this isn’t the time to stop. Bringing your body to an abrupt halt after putting it through heavy exertion can cause severe cramps in the muscle. Instead, try brisk walking or walking at a casual pace — whatever your body can take — just keep it moving.
2. Grab a recovery snack / drink
Within 20 minutes of your hard run, hydrate your body with water, carbohydrates and protein. Protein shakes, electrolite tables in water, and protein bars help nourish the body with a quick and effective muscle restoration. As for your post-run recovery meal, put carbohydrates and starchy food ahead of anything else for a much needed refuel in energy, then protein for muscle repair. Don’t forget to stay hydrated with water throughout the day!
3. Go for a light massage
Your legs have just completed a 10km run and is in need of some tender love and care. At this point, going for a light massage just to encourage the blood circulation throughout the body, warm up the muscle fibers and remove any built up lactic acid in the body which can cause muscle tension. Above all, don’t forget to stretch!
4. Try cryo- , heat, or float therapy
Once you get home, you may be tempted to jump in the shower. However, between the debate between cold or heat therapy, you might be contemplating between an ice bath or hot shower to alleviate muscle soreness. While ice baths, otherwise known as cryotherapy, constrictsblood vessels and decreases metabolic activity helping bring down the swelling and the breakdown of muscle tissue, heat therapy, on the other hand, helps relax the muscle and allow fluids to flow more freely through your body.
Alternatively, float therapy also provides a great and tranquil session for the body to recover. The sensory deprivation chamber is filled with about 454kg of Epsom salt, making the water dense with magnesium sulfate, thus promoting the increase in magnesium in the body which is ideal for muscle recovery.
5. Take two-weeks off
Whether you are an amateur or professional marathon runner, after any long distance marathon, it is always important to give your body a rest and avoid cross training. It takes 10 to 12 days for muscle, cellular and skeletal damage from marathons, while the compromised immune system takes 3 days to recover, though professional runners can take up to a month of rest just to recover.
Not having a proper recovery plan can lead to injuries, an increase in total recovery time and decrease in over all performance in the long run. But for those who cannot go a week without activity, perhaps light activity such as swimming and yoga will satisfy your yearnings.