The Athens Marathon has just ended and you are among those who managed to finish the classic route. Congratulations! The achievement is certainly great and the life experience you have lived even greater. But today, the day after, the healing phase has already begun, so it’s natural to wonder how long it takes for your body to fully recover and when to to return to running after a marathon. Below we will discuss some of the key elements that influence this period.
The way of running during a marathon plays a key role in the recovery period. It is completely different to run your best in a marathon to just run. Experts advise that it usually takes 1 day for every mile you run, that is, about 26 days away of running to get your body back in full shape. Some even match up to kilometers, making the total days 42! In any case, however, running a marathon to the fullest of your abilities is completely different from just running for participation and finishing. So, before following a specific recovery formula, it is important to listen to your body and adjust to the requirements it has.
Whatever the case, the good news is that resting and restoring does not necessarily mean no running. So you can continue your favorite hobby, without doing high-intensity workouts or other races for 2-3 weeks.
Another factor that greatly influences recovery after a marathon is soreness. And you may not feel anything in the first few hours, as you are still warm from the race and tired of being overworked, yet give your body a few days to show signs of pain. Swelling, muscle cramps, joint pains are just a few of the effects of a marathon that can take place days after the race. Each of them depends on the level of each athlete and the intensity of training and preparation he or she has made for the particular race. So for example the lack of pain shows that you had a very good preparation for the requirements of this fight!
As a general rule, however, what we would advise is to get a workout leave for about 4-5 days after a marathon. Sleep well, take care of your diet and bottom up … enjoy your success before going out on the road again! You will have all year to resume training and prepare for your next goal.
As we said above, 4-5 days after the marathon you can start the light exercise. And by light, we mean low-intensity exercise with few pulses, not over 55-60% of your maximum potential. Exercise time is also important, as it should never exceed 1 hour.
Get started with light jogging for about half an hour and within a week you can have up to 1 hour of training. In any case, running will help you recover faster from minor injuries and keep your body in a better state than quitting training altogether. Light exercise helps to circulate the oxygen in your body and naturally the trace elements in your muscles flow better, thus helping you recover faster.
There are many ways to do this. Walking, jogging, cycling, stretching or swimming are some of the ways that will help your body to recover faster. Also a massage treatment or the use of a foam roller will help to relieve pain more quickly and move blood to injured muscle areas, making healing easier.
Certainly after a very intense workout, taking a hot bath would greatly relax the muscles and remove all the tension and pressure of the race. However, it is important to avoid doing this for up to 48 hours after the race. An ice bath is certainly not easy, but it is ideal after the marathon, as it will help you significantly minimize any inflammation that has occurred. It is no coincidence that almost all great professional athletes use ice machines after the races to better their bodies.
And because we certainly understand that the shock of having a very cold bath is great, what you can do is fill the bathtub with cold water and first put in the spot of your body that suffers the most shock during the race : the legs. After you put your feet in the bathtub, you can gradually add ice to avoid the big shock from the temperature difference. Then, and only if you see that you can do it, you can immerse yourself in the whole tub. Your body will be hydrated and restored before you even realize it.
Gradual return to training
So after the days are gone and we have followed the steps above correctly, we can gradually get back to training! This should be done gradually, starting at a few km and gradually increasing the training volume. So for example you can do 5-10km workouts in the first week and a “long run”, but never exceed 15km. Next week you can increase the volume to 10-15km on weekdays and 20-25km on the weekend. In general you can adjust the above program to how you feel and what your next goals are.
Last but not least, a tip is to keep your heart rate at rest, as this is an important parameter in the recovery period. When your pulses return to the normal pace you had before the marathon, then you are ready to start running again. It is important at this point to emphasize that as you start running, it is important to keep an eye on your breaths and pulses, as if the pulses go too high or you are short of breath, it means you are still not fully recovered. These are signs of fatigue, which you should keep in mind and continue light training until eliminated.
How much recovery time our body needs after a marathon is more or less determined by the above elements. Running after a marathon is a first-class opportunity to relax and set your next goal. Plan your training and set your goals so you are ready for your next success!