You train and hustle, working hard to prepare for a race. After the race, what do you do? Do you take time to recover or do you hit the ground running again? Many runners fail to take the right amount of time to adequately recover after a big race. Why is taking a break such a big deal?
When you run a big race (especially a marathon), your body faces various different effects. Some of the issues you may find yourself dealing with are:
- Physical or mental exhaustion and burnout
- Stress fractures
- Injuries from overuse, such as runner’s knee, shin splints or tendonitis
- Weakened immune system or increased susceptibility to sickness as a result of an exhausted body
- Inability to reach peak training levels
This important, yet neglected part of training plans takes time. Allow yourself at least one day off every 7 to 14 days to restock glycogen stores, reduce fatigue and build strength. If you fail to give yourself time to rest, your one day of rest can turn into a several-week-long forced break. If you dive right into recovery right after a race or tough workout, you can improve your recovery process drastically.
Signs that You Are Not Recovering Adequately
Your body will give you signals if you are not giving it the rest it requires. This can lead to injury. Common signs that you need to give yourself a rest day may include:
- Depressed mood
- Elevated resting heart rate
- Pain or soreness
- Low oxygen levels
- Bad workouts
- Poor sleep
If you experience any of these symptoms, consider taking a break or at the very least, an easy day.
Replenish by Taking it Slow
If you want to keep moving, consider slowing things down a bit. Run at a slower pace for one to three days after a hard workout, allowing blood to flow to your muscles while flushing away broken down proteins. This can also enable new proteins to develop to rebuild damaged tissues and carry carbs to replenish depleted stores in your muscle cells.
Recovering After a Marathon
Marathons can take a huge toll on your mind and body. Recovery does not just naturally happen. You need to help it along – especially if you plan to run again.
Many of us find it difficult to slow down our pace after a race, wanting to stick with a fast-paced, regimented schedule. Instead, follow these tips for the first 72 hours post marathon.
The first 24 hours:
- Refuel with a high carb drink and a small amount of protein immediately following a race.
- Eat frequent snacks high in carbs but also contain 25 to 30 grams of protein for the first 24 hours.
- Gentle foam rolling and compression can help to remove toxins from the muscle and improve blood flow. Aside from this, relax.
25 – 72 hours:
- Wear compression clothing but try light exercise. Active recovery helps the body’s natural repair process by delivering more oxygen and nutrients where it is needed.