This year, the Houston Marathon is back. So I want to say congratulations to all runners who are training for the Chevron Houston marathon and half-marathon!
I know that, right now, the race feels miles away. But it will come and go sooner than you think. So in honor of the hard work you're already doing, I'd like to share my guide to recovering from the impact that major a race has on your body. (Bonus: it can also help you bounce back from your long-run days.)
First, I'm going to give you the low down on so-called recovery shoes. Then, I hope you'll enjoy the three-phase race recovery guide, crafted by your Houston running doctor.
Recovery Tools for Runners
After a hard workout or run, there are a few tools you can use to help your sore body. Foam rolling sore spots is still a fan-favorite among runners. They're great for targeting large muscles that tighten when you run. (Think glutes, hamstrings or even your calf muscles.)
But what about feet that ache after a race or hard training session? The simplest option is to an old-runners hack. Legend has it that rolling your foot over an old golf or lacrosse ball can loosen up your tight foot muscles. And this could relieve pressure, while boosting blood flow to your feet. (Both can help with recovery. But, if your feet feel too tender, you can also roll your feet on a frozen water bottle. Which also does wonder if you're dealing with minor heel pain. Or recovering from plantar fasciitis.)
Here's the only problem with these recovery tools for runners. You have to actually take out the balls or rollers and get to work. But we all know that runners aren't the best at taking rest days or cross training. So expecting them to use these balls may be asking too much.
Do Recovery Sneakers Work?
Because runners aren't always compliant, inventors came up with recovery sneakers. Designed by Kane, a relatively new sneaker manufacture, these recovery shoes are meant to relieve pressure points in your feet.
The Revive active recovery shoe looks like a Croc. But it might actually be good for your feet, unlike that other podiatry nemesis.
That's because it was developed by a foot and ankle surgeon and a lacrosse trainer. And carefully crafted to knead sore muscles in your feet. (Kind of like a walking sports massage.)
The best part of these sneakers? The only recovery effort involved is slipping into them. After that, all you have to do is walk. And you'll get extra help recovering from your run.
Even better? The shoemaker wants to help the planet. These recovery sneakers are completely recyclable, and sourced from sustainable materials. So you can boost your training, while going green. And you'll never have to remember to run your feet over a ball.
Of course, these sneakers can only help your tight feet. But, after a long race, like a half or full marathon, you'll need a lot more recovery help than simple shoes can deliver. And that's why you need my Houston marathon 3-phase recovery plan.
Post Marathon Recovery Plan
Phase One: Recovering Right After Your Race Finish
Keep On Moving
Don’t give in to the impulse to collapse after you cross the finish line. That will only offer temporary relief. Instead, turn to a light jog or walk a few laps so your legs can cool down without developing cramps.
Drink Up for Rehydration
Even if you’ve maintained hydration throughout the race, your job isn’t done now that the running is. Right after you finish running, drink something with electrolytes, like juice or a sports drink. Water will do, if that’s all you have on-hand. But I'd love to see you replenish some of the nutrients you excreted logging 13.1 or 26.2 miles.
As soon as you’ve finished your cool-down, stretch. A lot. If you don’t, you’ll really regret it tomorrow. A note here: I prefer active to static stretching. Learn more about the difference here.) That's especially true after you finish a race, since this method keeps you moving at the same time as you stretch out tight muscles.
Phase 2: Recovering in the First Hour After a Half Marathon
After running through your immediate post-race checklist, it’s time to refuel. My typical post-race foods like bagels, bananas and sports snacks are great, as they replenish carbs and should be easy on digestion. But stay away from new or spicy foods as your stomach will probably be more sensitive.
If you feel any pain at all within this window, start icing the area to prevent swelling and hopefully reduce injury. And scroll back up to my favorite recovery tools to revisit the idea of foot rolling with a frozen water bottle.
Phase 3: After a Big Race, Recovery Continues the Next Day(s)
In order to help get rid of the muscle aches you’re surely feeling, keep bringing in the fluids to facilitate healing. At this point, you no longer need sports drinks. Plain old H2O is now your best friend.
Break out your foam roller, lacrosse ball or recovery sneakers, and spend a lot of time focusing on your sore muscles. Now's also a great time to really indulge and book yourself a professional sports massage.
Get Back in the Saddle
If you can handle it, take a light jog or walk around the block to loosen up your muscles and speed up your recovery time. But please remember I said "light." The day after you finish a marathon is not the time to jump into training for your next race. Be easy on your body, so that it'll be healed and prepared for many more races to come.
Want more running advice? Visit my blog or schedule a runner’s consultation with Dr. Andrew Schneider.