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The LLS Blog

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6 Tips for Post-Marathon Recovery

By LLS Staffer |

Whether it’s a marathon, half marathon, triathlon, cycling, climbing or hiking, Team In Training (TNT) participants achieve their personal best while fundraising for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Along the way, TNT expert coaches provide participants training resources and a supportive community to reach the finish line.

But, once you reach the finish line, it isn’t quite over…

Recovering from a marathon is a critical component to a perfect training plan that runners often neglect. Unfortunately, not properly recovering from a marathon can increase injury risk, increase the total recovery time, and limit long-term potential. The following are six tips for post-marathon recovery:

1. Replenish and warm up as quickly as possible. After you cross the finish line, you’ll probably get cold very quickly, so make sure you get into a blanket or warm clothes. Try to find something to eat; some good options include bananas, energy bars, sports drinks, fruit and bagels. Many marathoners can’t eat soon after finishing, so grab a handful of items and make your way to friends and family.

2. Consider an ice bath. When you get back to your hotel or home, you should consider an ice bath. Fill the tub with ice and cold water and submerge your lower body for 15 minutes. The water temperature should be colder than 65 degrees, but 55 degrees is optimal. After the bath, nap or walk around to try and loosen your legs.

3. Rest for three days and consume fruits, carbohydrates and protein. During this rest time, you shouldn’t run or cross train. However, you should soak in a hot tub for 10-15 minutes each day and stretch well afterwards. It’s also important to eat fruits, carbohydrates and protein. While the carbohydrates and protein help repair muscle damage, the fruits will provide a boost of vitamin C and antioxidants. A light massage will help loosen your muscles, but don’t schedule a deep tissue massage just yet.

4. Start promoting blood flow to your legs. During the four to seven days after the race, take one two to four mile easy runs. Cross training is optional, but two days of 30-40 minutes at an easy effort is suggested. If you have areas that are bothersome, now is the time to get a deep tissue massage. Also consider a contrast bath or an Epsom salt bath.

5. One week after the race, ease back into your workouts. Once you’re seven days out, you can take the next week to ease back into light workouts. Go out for three or four days for an easy run of four to six miles. Consider three cross training sessions – one easy workout and two at medium effort for 30-45 minutes.

6. Two weeks out, it’s time to build back into full training! In the next week, go out for four to five runs of four to eight miles with four 20-second strides after each run. For cross training, consider one easy session, one medium, and one hard session of 40-50 minutes. During this period, it’s important to ensure proper recovery so you can train even harder during your next training cycle. Try not to schedule any races until six weeks after your marathon. If you wait a few weeks to let your body recover and train a bit first, your next race will have much better results!

Since its inception in 1988, when a team of 38 runners trained together for the New York City Marathon and raised $320,000, TNT has trained more than 600,000 people and helped LLS invest more than $1 billion in research to advance breakthrough cancer treatments that are saving lives today. To learn more, go to www.teamintraining.org