Congratulations! You signed up, trained hard, and now your marathon is complete. With the hard work behind you, what’s next? Experienced runners will tell you: Recovery should come first.
Immediately following a long-distance run, your body’s “running economy”—a.k.a. its rate of oxygen consumption—is compromised. Although the race is finished (and even though you may feel fine) your body is working overtime to replenish lost oxygen and repair damaged muscles.
Enter post-race recovery strategies, which vary widely—with mixed success. As you begin your own recovery process, here are three common myths to avoid.
Myth #1: Take One Day of Rest for Each Mile Raced
This is a persistent myth that no research supports. However, some experts recommend resting for 3-7 days after a marathon before easing back into endurance training. Doing so within that range allows muscles to recover at an individual’s own pace; according to Greatist, “muscle recovery is highly variable between individuals, because how muscles react to stress differs” for everyone.
Myth #2: Do Nothing At All
Runners are always at risk for torn ham strings, blown knees and herniated discs—but what you may not know is that these injuries often occur after the big run. Studies show that muscle damage following an endurance race can last anywhere from 10-14 days, which is typically when athletes no longer feel sore—but nor have they fully recovered.
After marathon running, muscle tension builds and flexibility is decreased. Proper recovery involves restoring that flexibility by reducing soreness and inflammation. Compression can help, as does ice. Many runners find foam rollers to be especially helpful, since “self-myofascial release” (the fancy term for foam rolling) provides an easy means of self-massage that releases muscle tightness. With the self-massage inherent in foam rolling, your muscles return to their normal levels of elasticity and performance.
Myth #3: Get Right Back Into High-Impact
Whenever you ease back into physical activity, seek out low impact options to start. Greatist Expert Andrew Kalley puts swimming at the top of his post-race regimen since there’s “no impact on the body, and the water is soothing on the muscles.” Another way to hit the road to recovery: Take an easy ride on an exercise bike. “It’ll get the legs moving again,” Kalley says, as well as draw new blood to your affected muscles and speed up recovery.
Check out this post-marathon recovery program we love from the experts at Runner’s World. Or, stop by your nearest Gym Source showroom. Our friendly associates are fitness enthusiasts, too—and full of great ideas for improving your workout, boosting your performance, and even maximizing your recovery with the right tips and tools.
With thanks to our sources: Runner’s World Community http://community.runnersworld.com/,Greatist: http://greatist.com/fitness/how-do-i-recover-marathon, and Runner’s World: http://www.runnersworld.com/race-training/the-mcmillan-performance-page-payback-time