Marathon training: recovery 101

16 January 2018 by
First published: 21 February 2018

Marathon training: recovery 101

When you’re training for a marathon it can be so easy to get caught up in running. It’s only natural, after all if you’re going to run 26.2 miles you want to make sure you get the practice in. It seems almost counter-intuitive to rest. However, if you want to really smash your race, then recovery is your secret weapon. We caught up with PT Mollie Millington to get some tips on how to recover like a pro.

Stretch it out

When you get in after a long winter run it can be tempting to dive straight into the bath to warm up, but Mollie explains how important it is to take some time to cool down and stretch out: ‘The more flexible you are, the more agile your body will be and the easier running will be.’ Not sure where to start when it comes to post-run stretching? Check out this great video from running coach James Dunn for some tips. James also has some useful advice on foam rolling, the necessary evil that’ll keep your muscles in tip top condition.

Wrap up warm

Training for a spring marathon means training through harsh winter weather, and although you warm up as you run, as soon as you stop you can get cold quickly! Mollie suggests making sure you have dry clothes to change into as soon as possible after your run. Try some cosy joggers and a micro down jacket to stop you getting too cold on that walk home from the track. Oh and don’t forget to put on a hat – you lose a lot of body heat through your head!

Stay hydrated

We don’t know about you, but we definitely find it easier to stay hydrated in the summer! When you’re sweating, drinking lots of water feels more intuitive, but just because you’re not sweating so much on that long winter run doesn’t mean you don’t need to drink! Mollie suggests making hydration part of your recovery routine, so have a bottle of water ready for when you get in from training.

Fuel right

In their great book Run Fast, Eat Slow, Shalane Flanagan (yep, the Olympic runner!) and Elyse Kopecky look at how important it is to nourish your body as a runner. Running puts huge stress on your body and in order to stay healthy runners actually need more antioxidants, vitamins and minerals than most, so it’s important to give yourself the right fuel! It’s so easy to think that because you worked hard that it’s ok to indulge in a sugary protein shake, but it’s unlikely to give you the nourishment you really need, and the aftermath of a big hit of sugar is fun for no one! Good post-run snacks include eggs, plant-based protein-rich foods like nuts and seeds and food that’s high in magnesium and calcium, like whole milk yoghurt.

Sleep it off

Getting enough sleep is essential if you want to perform at your best, but so often we priorities everything else in life other than resting up. When you’re marathon training you should be getting in around an hour of extra sleep every day – whether that’s at night, or by napping – to help your body recover. When we’re asleep our bodies are in repair mode, and if you don’t sleep well you’re less likely to reach your potential and more likely to get an injury, so get in that quality shut-eye time.

For more…

Get kitted up with these five running tights that will keep you warm this winter.