You’ve done it – you’ve crossed the finish line! Your focus through the 16 weeks of marathon training has come to fruition and you have earned your spot on the couch for the next week or so… Well, almost. While preparation was vital for your performance, your plan after crossing the finish line could be the most important part of your journey.
Sports scientists have repeatedly shown that your Creatine Kinase value (an enzyme that can provide a measure of muscular damage post exercise) can reach a whopping 25 times that of normal measures after a marathon. Marathon training and racing is such an impactful task for our body that the window of recovery can make a huge difference to how we feel in the subsequent weeks, and also how soon we can get back running. Here’s three tips for an efficient recovery.
Sports with high impact, like running, can be really tough on our muscles, ligaments and tendons. We simply can’t ‘out stretch’ the damage that is done to our soft tissue. Book one, if not several, sports massages for after the race, with a few days in between, to give your muscles chance to return to a healthy state and avoid creating new knots and adhesions.
This has never been more relevant than after a marathon. Your body has carried you through an immense physical challenge and now needs to be (literally) rebuilt from the foods you eat. Focus on consuming adequate calories (by first calculating your ‘Basal Metabolic Rate’), eating plenty of colourful vegetables and fruits to boost your immune system and taking on foods high in antioxidants, such as blueberries, to neutralize free radicals. And, of course, include lots of high-quality proteins within your meals to help repair damaged muscles.
Note: I recommend consuming at least 1g of protein per 1lb of total body weight in this recovery period. You will need it.
The key to recovery is overcoming that little voice in your head telling you to rest your legs by staying active! Of course, the activity changes and the intensity is reduced. I strongly suggest that the very next day you perform 30 minutes of something low-impact at around 50% of what you are capable of. Swimming or using a cross trainer are perfect examples and will encourage blood flow and lymphatic drainage to boost recovery. You will also feel far less discomfort as active recovery works its magic. Don’t sit down for too long!
Alex Chaple is an award-winning personal trainer and nutritionist, working with Champneys Health Spas to deliver carefully designed retreats to educate guests in nutritional protocols and fitness for improved health and wellness. Champneys are offering marathon runners 20 per cent off a Champneys full-body massage when visiting the Tring, Henlow, Forest Mere, Springs or Eastwell Manor resorts and day spas. Discount will be offered on presentation of a marathon medal. Terms and conditions apply.*
*A Champneys day or overnight stay must be booked to redeem this offer. Must be booked by 31 May. To book your day or stay at Champneys, visit Champneys.com.