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Recovery for Marathon Runners



Marathon running is an exhilarating feat of endurance, determination, and perseverance. However, as the miles stack up, so does the wear and tear on our bodies. Understanding the nuances of recovery is essential. Here's how to care for your body post-training and competition.


1. Listen to Your Body

First and foremost, your body knows best. Always pay attention to signals of fatigue, pain, or discomfort. Over-training fatigue and slight muscle strains can be early warning signs, so it's important to adjust your training and recovery accordingly.

2. Cool Down and Stretch

Immediately after a run, ensure you spend 10-15 minutes cooling down with gentle walking followed by static stretches. This helps to reduce muscle tightness and aids in the removal of lactic acid.

3. Rehydrate and Refuel

Marathon running depletes your body's glycogen stores and can lead to dehydration. Consume water or an electrolyte drink post-run. Refueling within the first 30 minutes with a mix of carbs and protein can aid muscle repair and energy replenishment. Think of a banana with almond butter or a protein shake.

4. Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is when the magic happens. Your body undergoes a process of repair and recovery. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep, ensuring a consistent routine and a sleep-conducive environment.


5. Utilize Recovery Products and Modalities

  • Foam Rollers: Great for breaking up fascial adhesions and promoting blood flow to sore muscles.

  • Compression Gear: These can enhance blood circulation and reduce muscle soreness.

  • Epsom Salt Baths: Soaking in these can help alleviate muscle cramps and stiffness.

  • Massage or Sports Therapy: This can address knots, trigger points, and muscle imbalances.


 

We asked Marathoner Dannielle McNeilly about her approach to recovery:


Above all is to make sure that I'm always listening to my body and discerning what is pain as opposed to soreness. It can take time to be able to tell the difference between the two but discomfort that lingers and or is triggered by even the simplest of movements is a sure fire sign that something may be wrong.



Another thing that helps with recovery is the obvious - REST. As athletes, we require much more physical rest because our bodies do so much more. Sleep is an integral aspect in recovery. Rest also doesn't mean taking a yoga class. Sometimes you really just need to not do anything. I have designated rest days for this reason.


During peak training blocks I like to incorporate epsom salt baths pre and post intense activities. Ice baths are also an option but it's a matter of preference. I also like deep tissue massages to get some myofascial release. Foam rolling and stretching help but on occasion you need more than what you can relieve by yourself.


Of course I can't forget about hydrating accordingly and consuming an adequate amount of calories for my activity levels. It's easy to ignore this when you might not feel hungry or thirsty after or during intense efforts but it's necessary. Proper nutrition is literally the fuel that keeps us healthy and moving.


The most important thing that helps me recover is just having a good attitude and gratitude throughout the whole process. I don't do anything I do not enjoy because nothing is worth it if you aren't happy. I maintain gratitude for being able to do what I do and doing it well. The body is a miraculous thing but the mind is even more so. We are capable of so much more with the proper mindset.


 



6. Cross-Training

Integrating low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, or yoga can aid recovery, improve flexibility, and reduce the risk of injury.

7. Nutritional Considerations

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Foods rich in omega-3s, like salmon or flaxseeds, have anti-inflammatory properties which can aid recovery.

  • Antioxidants: Berries, nuts, and dark chocolate help fight off free radicals, reducing muscle soreness.

  • Tart Cherry Juice: Known to reduce muscle pain and inflammation due to its antioxidant properties.

8. Consult Professionals

Always consult with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your training or recovery routine. If you're experiencing persistent pain or discomfort, consider seeing a physical therapist. They can offer tailored advice, exercises, and treatments to aid recovery and prevent potential injuries.

9. Take Recovery Days Seriously

Scheduled rest days are crucial. Your muscles need time to rebuild and repair. Overworking can lead to injury, fatigue, and decreased performance.

10. Stay Mindful of Mental Health

Recovery isn't just physical. Marathons can be mentally taxing. Consider activities like meditation or journaling to reflect on your training and keep stress at bay.

In conclusion, marathon running in your 30s and 40s is a testament to your strength and dedication. However, it's crucial to prioritize recovery as much as the run itself. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint, in more ways than one! Happy running and recovering.


 


iON's natural epsom salt foot soak to help the fatigued, weary feet of the athlete and active person crafted with herbs frankincense, turmeric, eucalyptus and aloe for othing experience and tea tree oil to help address fungus.



 

  1. American Heart Association. (2020). Warm Up, Cool Down. Link

  2. Clark, N. (2014). Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Human Kinetics.

  3. Halson, S. L. (2014). Sleep in elite athletes and nutritional interventions to enhance sleep. Sports Medicine, 44(suppl 1), S13-S23.

  4. Cheatham, S. W., Kolber, M. J., Cain, M., & Lee, M. (2015). The effects of self‐myofascial release using a foam roller or roller massager on joint range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance: a systematic review. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 10(6), 827.

  5. Hyldahl, R. D., & Hubal, M. J. (2014). Lengthening our perspective: morphological, cellular, and molecular responses to eccentric exercise. Muscle & Nerve, 49(2), 155-170.

  6. Kerksick, C., Harvey, T., Stout, J., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C., Kreider, R., ... & Ivy, J. L. (2008). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(1), 1-12.

  7. Kuehl, K. S., Perrier, E. T., Elliot, D. L., & Chesnutt, J. C. (2010). Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7(1), 1-6.

  8. American Physical Therapy Association. (2018). The role of a physical therapist in sports injury management. Link


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