Did you just finish a marathon or half marathon? Are you wondering what to do after your race to speed up recovery? In this article, we are covering marathon and half marathon recovery tips! We are going to talk about what to do (and not do) after your marathon or half marathon!
First off if you are reading this it means you probably have completed a recent race, so kudos to you first and foremost! Races are an awesome way to challenge ourselves and test our fitness level and to see if all that training and miles you have been logging is paying off from a performance perspective. Shout out to my Connecticut runners who just finished the Hartford half or full marathon or race series!
In this week’s episode & blog, I will be talking about post-race recovery tips and answering these common questions:
– Can I run the day after a half marathon?
– How long should you rest after a half marathon?
– When to start running after a marathon?
What I am going to do is break down 3 distinct phases. In each of these phases there will be 4 specific tips to help you recover quicker so you get back to what you love running in a healthy way without getting injured! The phases are:
1. Immediately after
2. Day of your race
3. Days following your race
Click the video below to watch the LIVE video within the Healthy Runner Facebook Group
Before we get into the content, I want to express that post race recovery is going to look a little different for everyone! It is going to be based on your ability, fitness level, running experience and dietary needs. However, these guidelines will help you navigate the day of the race as well as the week that follows so you can bounce back as quickly as possible.
These recovery tips are going to come in 4’s! Just like our classical elements come in 4 and I know you can relate to this as runners. (earth, Air, Fire, Water)
We run on the earth, breath the air, feel the fire in our legs, and need the water to keep us going!
Alright, let’s get into it!
Keep moving and walking (if you are experienced then go for a 1-2 mile easy jog to flush out some of the waste in your muscles). DON’T SIT! By walking, you promote active recovery-you’re still pumping blood through your fatigued muscles and simultaneously clearing all the excess metabolic waste (lactic acid) that you accumulated during the race, he says. There’s another important reason why continuing to move is so important: Since your body had been pumping blood and oxygen to the working muscles, stopping abruptly can cause blood to pool in the lower extremities, decreasing your blood pressure. That can cause some runners to become dizzy or light-headed and even pass out
Post race you need to have about 200-300 calories of simple carbs and 20% protein… (banana and orange is about 150 calories so think about a small bagel or bread with that). Myself I like to bring my plant based protein with me to races since most races don’t have non dairy options for protein.
Get back any hydration you lost by drinking some water. The recommendation is 16-20 oz. after finishing and then another within the next hour and continue until rehydrated. Your urine should be light yellow. This color indicates a person is hydrated. Any dark yellow/amber usually indicates dehydration. If you’re feeling that dry mouth, thirsty feeling, you’re already dehydrated and you need to, need to, need to get some water into your body!
Get in your electrolytes! Myself, I am a big fan of UCAN hydrate. Important so you don’t just urinate all the water your are consuming. The sodium in electrolytes is important to allow your body to absorb that fluid intake that you’re getting when you’re drinking your water.
Click HERE for all the info on UCAN and to get a 15% healthy runner discount!
When you’re back at home after your race, there are some key things you’re going to want to do to make sure you are recovering in the right way!
This doesn’t have to be an unbearable ice bath. The main objective here is to get your worn out muscles into a cool water bath. You can soak your feet and legs (up to your knees) in a cool tub that is 20 degrees cooler than your body temperature for 15-20 minutes. This will help to reduce any post-race inflammation.
You have to keep moving! No matter how tired you are – don’t allow yourself to plop down on the couch and just stay there. You need to keep moving periodically throughout the day. Try to go for walks that are about 10 to 30 minutes in length, at least 2 to 3 times in the afternoon.
When you are laying down and resting, make sure you are elevating those legs! Recline your legs with your feet above heart level compression sleeves may speed recovery and reduce the possibility of blood clots after the run. Research shows that compression sleeves around the calf muscle can improve performance also.
Make sure that you are still replenishing your fuel. You can do this with small meals every 2-3 hours (25% protein, 20% fat, 55% complex carbs to build back your glyocogen stores that were depleted during your race).
Recovery doesn’t end 24 hours after your race. It’s going to take some time and you have to be patient and kind to yourself and your body. You just did something amazing!
Foam roll or get a massage. This can help with DOMS, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. DOMS peaks at 24-48 hours after you’ve exerted your muscles. Foam rolling or getting a massage may be helpful at flushing out your muscles and decreasing the soreness you have. Click HERE for more information on Muscle Care.
In the days after your race, you want to keep moving – but not at the same intensity as before/during your race. Depending on your level of fitness, how sore you are, and how many races you have done this can vary but we are thinking an easy, conversational pace run.
As mentioned in step 2, it’s okay to keep moving but don’t try to do another race. It is recommended that you wait at least 3 weeks to jump into a 5-k coming off a half or full marathon and 4-6 weeks before doing another half! It’s important to give your body that time to rest and restore!
When you run a race, and you finish, you feel like you can do anything! Like I said before, you just did something amazing. You have a high and then the letdown happens. That’s okay. It is completely normal and I promise you that you’re not the only one who has felt that way. Are you wondering how do we get over this though? Try one of these and see if it helps – Set a new goal, schedule social runs with friends, scenic runs, or fun events. Focus on something new and kind to yourself to get you out of the letdown faster and back to running!
Remember, Running Recovery will look different for everyone, so some things may work for others that don’t work for you and vice versa! Try different things and see what works best for you! Everyone’s running story is different. Most importantly, remember to refuel and give your body the chance to really recover so that you can continue to do what you love, staying active and staying healthy!
I hope that this week’s content was beneficial for you and will help you following your next race!
Before your next run, training session or race implement the latest from SPARK… It’s our 5 minute Dynamic Warm-Up! Please take a moment to watch the video, drop a like and subscribe to our YouTube Channel so we can continue creating the best content for our healthy runner community!
Thank you (running friends) for taking the time to read and I hope you enjoy the podcast episode!
Duane Scotti, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS
The SPARK Healthy Runner Program includes:
– 100% customized training plan developed and monitored by myself as your running coach and physical therapist!
– 100% customized strength plan developed and monitored.
– Modifications to your plan as needed.
– LIVE on-boarding coaching call by phone or video chat.
– Weekly workout analysis and accountability.
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“I developed IT band syndrome during my first marathon training cycle last year and ended up in physical therapy for about 3 months. I was told not to run if I had any pain at all. I lost so much time “recovering” that I ended up deferring my registration to the next year. I spent the next summer training for the same marathon when about 6 weeks out, that familiar IT band pain returned. I could barely finish a mile. I didn’t want to go back to my physical therapist because I knew what he was going to tell me. Stop running. I was so frustrated and started to feel like marathons weren’t for me. I stumbled upon the healthy runner podcast and learned that I don’t have to stop running in order to recover from injury! I was skeptical about an online physical therapy session. But I reached out to Dr. Scotti and he was able to give me the tools to mitigate my pain within the first session! I was able to complete my training cycle and made it to the finish line of my first marathon with his help! I highly recommend!”
“I’d been dealing with Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy (PHT) for about 4 years and had been doing PT, but still had lingering pains. I just figured I’d have to suck it up and deal with it because that was as good as I was going to get. But then, I came across a podcast of Duane being interviewed by Jason Fitzgerald on PHT and how he overcame the injury, and my curiosity was piqued. I met with him virtually and he has been a GODSEND! I’m able to sit as I type this! I can bend over and get in and out of cars without pain! And, I’m RUNNING again!!! It is amazing to be able to do things that I haven’t been able to do without pain since 2016!!! Thank you so much Duane for being an incredible PT!!”
“I suffered from IT band syndrome for four years before seeing Dr. Scotti in April 2020. Before then, I couldn’t run more than about 10 minutes without stabbing pain near my left knee. I’d seen various orthopedists, physical therapists, and chiropractors looking for some relief. My career needed me to run a mile and a half within a certain amount of time, and it was impossible to do so with the knee pain. I saw Dr. Scotti and he immediately got to work! That first visit, he helped me understand the anatomy and underlying cause of my knee pain (aka IT Band syndrome). Once I understood what was happening, the course of treatment made so much sense. Not only did he have online videos of all the recommended exercises to treat the problem, his “healthy runner” Facebook group, Podcast, and YouTube videos held a wealth of information and supplemented my plan. I soon understood that running wasn’t just a casual hobby – it’s a sport and one that deserves dedication and focus. Without his dedication to the sport and his community, I wouldn’t have realized this! Over the next few months, I had many ups and downs – victories and failures – and even some tears! Two steps forward and one step back. Dr. Scotti always checked in between appointments and tweaked my plan if needed. By August, I was regularly running 3-4 miles with barely any pain! If I did get pain, it was because my dedication and focus were lacking – and I quickly picked it back up and overcame. I’m so thankful I took another chance at having my knee looked at and trusted someone else. I run regularly now and am really enjoying it. I can’t thank Dr. Scotti enough and would highly recommend him to anyone having trouble.”