With the New York marathon just completed and the Houston marathon right around the corner in January, I wanted to share some recovery suggestions that will keep you from doing more damage to your body in the aftermath of completing a 26.2 mile race.
The first thing you should do is change out of your sweaty clothes into dry ones. You should also change shoes (another pair of running shoes would be best, so your feet won’t swell up and your feet will have the support they need).
Once you’ve changed, it would be ideal for you to lie down and put your feet up. After pounding the pavement for hours, putting up your feet will help restore blood flow and allow you some down time for your body to recover. If you’re feeling shaky, make sure you have someone with you when you lie down. Aim to get in several similar rest periods today, for 15-25 minutes each time if at all possible.
Within the first 30 minutes of your finish, get nourishment, preferably a liquid containing protein. During this initial half-hour, you’ll also want to look over your body and assess where, if anywhere, you are experiencing pain; if you think you have a blister or sprain, you’ll want to try to get it taken care of right away.
Once you’ve taken care of the immediate necessities, you’ll want to head home and get cleaned up. If you’re feeling brave, you may even opt for a cool shower to reinvigorate yourself. Next, get a real meal in and make sure you take in lots of fluids. It’s probably a good idea not to include alcohol in those fluids since your body is still in major recovery mode right now.
At the end of the day, get to bed at a reasonable time, leaving lots of water beside your bed in case you wake up thirsty and sore in the middle of the night.
The first day may not be your toughest—the next two will likely test your strength quite a bit. It’s a good idea during the next few days to remain active (light exercise like walking, swimming or a quick bike ride will help flush the toxins out of your body and keep you from stiffening up). To further help that process, you can engage in self-massage or treat yourself to a professional one.
After the initial recovery period is over, you’ll still want to avoid running for at least a week (although two would be better). Remember, your body has been through an incredible ordeal; it needs plenty of time to recover, and you would be wise to give yourself that time.
Of course all of the above only applies if you’ve completed your race injury free. If you sustained a foot, toe or ankle injury during the marathon, schedule an appointment with your Houston podiatrist immediately so you can begin your recovery and avoid future complications.