Marathon recovery tips

7 October 2015 by
First published: 24 April 2015

You’ve put yourself through your paces with marathon training, got yourself prepped with all the necessary kit and probably even checked out the weather to make sure you’re ready for whatever the sky might throw in your direction. But have you set yourself up with a plan of recovery?

With the much-anticipated London marathon in just a few days we thought we’d share with you the best tips for replenishing your body after all that hard work. We spoke with Virgin Active UK’s running specialist, Alex Rahim, to find out his top strategies for recovery.

1. Eating after the marathon

After 26.2 gruelling miles you’ll definitely have worked up an appetite and in fact eating as soon as possible after the marathon is vital after the stress your body’s been put under. ‘Ensure that your diet contains lots of protein, fats and carbohydrates for good recovery,’ Alex says. ‘Do your best to have high-quality foods – if you have low-grade food growing in dirty soil or with poor substances then this’ll leak into your system, too, meaning the body won’t be able to function as efficiently.’

2. When to start running again

Maybe not the answer you were expecting, Alex explains how soon you can start training again after the Marathon: ‘As soon as possible as this’ll help flush out waste products from the system and help reduce stiffness. Light runs and general movement are highly encouraged. It’s easy to become a bit lazy and just want to relax, but this makes the soreness worse and slows recovery.’

3. Recommended exercise post-marathon

Once the marathon is finished, you’ll be able to get back to your regular exercise routine as soon as you like. ‘Running should not only be present in your program alone,’ advises Aex. ‘You should still have strength training, corrective exercise, core work and some form of stretching at least (whether that’s foam rolling or yoga). This will help you reach your full potential.’

4. Ice baths, massages and stretching

What should you do immediately after you’ve finished the marathon? A celebratory drink we hope! But Alex recommends three treatments for initially soothing your well worked-out limbs:
– Ice baths are important for reducing inflammation.
Massage will also aid in flushing out those waste products.
– Stretching should be done for a prolonged period of time but you must be aware that due to heightened metabolic responses from exercise you won’t get the true benefits, so stretching again at night just before bed is also recommended as this stimulates a different part of the nervous system.

5. Adjusting your diet

There’s a lot of confusion with topping up calorie intake when exercising. After all those marathon miles, will we need to pack our bodies back up with food for the following few days? Alex explains that a few days after the lengthy event, you might find that hunger is increased, so you’ll need to eat accordingly. ‘If your level of exercise decreases dramatically, you won’t need to be fuelling the body with as much food,’ he explains. ‘A lot of people are out of balance with diet on a regular day and this will be true when training for a marathon too. Yes, your calorie intake should increase when training but not necessarily if your daily calorie consumption is already high. Also ensure that the right type of calories are being consumed, and that foods are of a high quality and high in nutrients.’