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  • Writer's pictureJesse Lewis

What To Do After Your Marathon: Recovery & Beyond

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

Congratulations on completing a marathon! You are in the 1% of the population who can accomplish running 26.2 miles. After many months dedicated to training, it’s not surprising you’re wondering what to do now. This is a great time to rest, build a good base for your next race, and maybe even try something new that you didn’t have time or energy to attempt while training. Learn four steps our physical therapists recommend you follow post-race.

1. Rest and Recover

Before you jump into the next thing, it’s important to focus solely on resting. Training for a marathon is physically and mentally exhausting. Give your body and mind a break from a week to a month (or more if this feels right) to prevent burnout. Though it may be tempting to get back to high-intensity exercise, rushing back into it will do more harm than good. More pro tips:

  • Refuel your body through a healthy balance of water, carbohydrates, and protein in the days after the race. All three of these elements are important for muscle repair.

  • Take 5 days to a month off from running. You are likely exhausted and excited to read this tip.

  • Don’t get a sports massage in the first couple of days after the marathon. While gentle massages from a professional on race day and stretches can help, a more rigorous massage can contribute to muscle damage.

  • Incorporate some movement into your recovery time. Rather than staying stagnant on the couch or in your bed to rest, it’s best to do some low-impact exercise—like yoga, swimming, or a bike ride.

  • If you decide to try a new exercise, make sure you build up to it. Though you’re in impeccable shape, this doesn’t translate to all other types of exercise. Build up gradually.

  • Get extra sleep. This is crucial to muscle repair, as sleep time releases necessary growth hormones.

  • Keep close tabs on what your body is trying to tell you. Everybody’s body recovers differently.

2. Build Strength

While training your strength will improve your running, it’s tough to focus on it whilst ramping up your mileage. Now that you’ve just finished your fall marathon, it’s a good time to start thinking about working on your strength in preparation for spring races.

If you’re feeling up to it, a week or two after your race is the perfect time to focus on strength training. You’ll want to start with gentle workouts and light weights. Focus on upper body and core workouts during the first week of your post-marathon strength training. During week two, you can start to ease into lower-body exercises and bodyweight movements. By week three, you should be able to return to lifting with your full body and heavier weights. However, let your body guide you. If you have pain or noticeably low energy while attempting this, back off weight training.

3. Work on Speed

The weather has cooled down and there is no need to run long distances until your spring races. This is a great opportunity to build up your base speed. Because you’re not married to a marathon training schedule at the moment, it’s a good time to practice faster speeds with shorter runs.

Be cautious with your speed training post-marathon. In the first month following the race, you should aim for one run a week at your target race speed. In month two, you can up this to two race-speed runs per week. At any given time, you should not be completing more than three-speed runs a week.

4. Take Care of Any Injuries

It’s common for runners to have lingering injuries from training or race day. Any persistent pain is abnormal and should be paid attention to. Give them attention now to avoid larger issues down the line.

Get Help With Race Injuries

Our physical therapists specialize in running injuries and are here to help. Reach out to us by filling out this form texting, or calling us at 202-922-7331.

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