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Running a marathon places massive stress on your body so it is important to allow for sufficient recovery afterward. Not allowing enough recovery often leads to injuries and overtraining. Studies have shown that training for the marathon and the marathon itself induce inflammation and muscle fibre necrosis. This significantly impacts on muscle power and endurance for up to 14 days post marathon.
Cellular damage post marathon increases production of creatinine kinase. This marker indicates skeletal muscle damage and takes 7 days to recover post marathon.
Following a marathon, your immune system is also compromised, increasing the chance of you catching a cold or flu. Resting as much as possible post race and eating healthy and nutrient rich food is important to bring your immune system back to normal.
As soon as you finish the run, do your best to keep moving and walking for 10-15 minutes afterwards, no matter how tempting it is to drop to your knees. This will allow your heart rate to drop gradually, circulation to return back to its resting state and flush your muscles of all the lactic acid that has built up. Get some warm clothes on you as soon as possible as you are likely to get cold quite quickly.
Ensure you eat something small within 30 minutes of finishing running. Refuelling is best immediately after exercise as the body is eager to absorb energy. Try to eat easily digested calories to maintain blood sugar levels, increase glycogen and repair muscle tissue eg. Bananas, yoghurts and high carbohydrate foods. Eat your bigger meal later in the day when your appetite returns. Throughout the day continue to snack on small meals that include 3-4 part carb and one part protein. Drink fluids regularly throughout the day to gradually rehydrate.
If you can tolerate it, soak in a cold bath for 5-10 minutes when you get home, and try wearing compression tights for the rest of the day. This helps decrease inflammation and lactic acid build up by improving circulation.
Week 1 post marathon: rest initially for a few days followed by light cross training eg. swimming/cycling. Light massage and gentle rolling this week will also aid muscle recovery.
Week 2 post marathon: if you’re feeling pain free, start back running but at an easy effort and short distances eg. 30 minute runs.
Week 3 post marathon: if your body is feeling good, start to gradually increased distance and intensity over this week. If you are still experiencing the odd niggle or feel fatigued, continue to cross train and go for short, light jogs.
Don’t worry about losing fitness during your recovery phase. It is much more important to allow your body full recovery in order to avoid carrying injury into your next training phase.
Our physios here at Ballsbridge Physio are very experienced in treating running injuries and will help diagnose any injuries or niggles you may be experiencing, helping you get back to training for your next event. Contact us here to make an appointment.