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Attention runners! There are LOTS of awesome races coming up here in Texas over the next few months:

Not to mention a few right here in the Metroplex!

If you’ve signed up for one of these races or plan on doing so, you’ve likely already begun your training. And even though you’re laser-focused on preparing yourself for what will be a grueling (but very rewarding) race, you must not lose sight of an equally important aspect of the process–your recovery. It’s critical that you allow your body to heal from the several hours–and 26.2 miles!–of running it just went through. Read on for some helpful marathon recovery tips.

  1. Refuel and rehydrate

You may have drank some water during the race but you also lost a lot of fluids during the process. Immediate hydration is important, but you’re not going to replenish everything right after the race. It’s a process that can take days. But it’s not just fluids you need to refuel your body–it also needs a combination of protein, fruits, veggies, and carbohydrates to heal your muscles.

  1. Rest…but not for too long

Depending on your body, you may feel like collapsing into bed and never getting up again. That’s normal. Your body is absolutely exhausted and requires rest to get back to normal. Five days to a week is the recommended break for most runners after a marathon. That includes no running or weight-bearing exercise during that time. Swimming, yoga, stretching, and cycling are good activities to start with since they’re minimally impactful exercises.

  1. Don’t get that massage you desperately want

You may be tempted to drive straight from the finish line to the spa and jump right onto the massage table. Don’t. Your muscles become damaged during a marathon–that’s why you’re in so much pain in the aftermath. While a massage certainly helps ease and relax exhausted muscles, it also can cause more muscle damage, which will make recovery longer. If you want that massage, it’s best to wait a day or two after the race to make that appointment.

  1. Get plenty of sleep

Just think about it–no early mornings of long runs to fit into your day while you’re in marathon training. Yes, you can finally sleep in! And doctors recommended you do exactly that. Your body does a lot of recovery while you sleep, and that’s exactly what your body needs after running a marathon. Deep sleep aids in the release of growth hormones, and that stimulates muscle growth and repair.

  1. Don’t ignore your body

You may be in great shape, and you may typically recover from an intense workout in just a day or two. But if your body is telling you to take an extra day or so to recover, listen to it. How will you know? If you’re still in pain and achy, that’s the body’s way of informing you it’s just not ready for more. And, to prevent a running injury, it’s wise to listen to your body. After all, you just put it through 26.2 miles, which no human body is accustomed to.

  1. Take a mental breather

Marathons require as much mental as physical strength and endurance. It’s a mental battle to will your body to physically finish those last grueling miles. Your mind will be exhausted along with your body. On top of that, many runners experience what’s called the “post-race blues.” You’ve been planning and training for months for this huge milestone, and once you cross that finish line, well…you’re done. No more race to train for. Even if you achieved your personal best or you accomplished your goal of finishing the marathon, runners often feel a sense of letdown and even emptiness. What will you fill your time with? How are you going to plan your days if there’s no run?

It’s okay, and it’s 100% normal to feel this way. Give yourself a few days to recover mentally as your body recovers physically. And, if you want to challenge yourself again, start planning for another race later in the year! Doing so will give you plenty to look forward to.

  1. Take your time getting back into running

After your week or so of recovery, do not jump right back into marathon training. Ease back into running with a few short, easy runs. These runs will get your blood pumping, your muscles working, and your joints moving. And that’s exactly what you want to do when you’re ready to run again. See how you feel after those runs. If your body responds well and you feel good, gradually ramp up the length and distance of your runs.

If you’re currently training for a marathon, we at Physical Therapy NOW in Irving wish you the best and are pulling for you! It’s such a rewarding experience, and you’ll be so proud of yourself once you cross the finish line, no matter your time. Once you’ve had some time to recover, stop by our state-of-the-art facility conveniently located in Irving. We’ll help you with your recovery through stretches, massage, and pain management. Call us at (214) 225-0291 to set up an appointment.


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