Rockin’ the recovery

I don’t know about you, but I always find recovery from a marathon to be a tricky thing. In the first few days post-race, you’re still on a high. (check) Your legs don’t feel all that bad (check) and you want to get back into training again as quickly as possible (somewhat check). You might even have another race on the horizon that’s tempting you to jump right back into it. But experience has taught me that recovery can be deceiving. You might feel like you’re fully recovered a few days later, when in reality, you’re not.

The requisite pilgrimage to Mike's Pastry

So what’s a runner to do? In my case, recovery began with a beer and a burger, Mike’s Pastry in Boston (have you had their cannoli?) and some walking around the city playing tourist. I was tempted to run a couple of miles the day after the marathon, but a large blood blister on my foot made me think twice. That, and friends who threatened to disown me if I considered it.

In all seriousness, I think any time you run a marathon, you need to give your recovery just as much attention as you did your training. Reversing your taper mileage, more or less, is a great way to go. Crosstraining for a few days is another. I did a 30-min. easy spin this morning on my bike trainer. Tomorrow I plan to swim a little and then run a very easy three miles.

I also like to give myself a week or two to just go with the flow. If I feel like turning the alarm off and going back to sleep, I do. If I feel like skipping a run, I do. This approach gives both my body and my mind to get back to where they need to be to handle real training again. And think about it. If you don’t do this in the week or so immediately following a marathon, when else are you going to do it? When you don’t, you’ll eventually find your enthusiasm starting to wane, and potentially set your body up for a fall, too. Not worth it in my opinion.

How do you recover post-marathon?

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  1. says

    I like to get running as soon as possible… but I don’t get out and plod, I don’t want to be slow, so I head for to the track and just run 50m till the leds start working properly. I start with a short warmup, a couple of laps, then 50’s maybe 4-6 on day 1, then a longer warmup and 6-10 x 50m. by the end of the week I’m running 3-5 miles and doing 10x 50m and the legs feel as if the running is back.

    I feel that if you get out at plod a couple of slow miles that is what your legs get use to… and we don’t want to be slow. I’m not saying those first 50’s are fast, it’s just about getting the legs running at the right pace. yes by the end of the week that might be getting faster.

    Good luck as you recover
    Coach Dion recently posted..RUNNING SOMEWHEREMy Profile

  2. says

    Are you kidding me? I wouldn’t have had the choice to run even if I wanted to. I still can’t walk, sit down, stand up or move around well at all without some major pain. I couldn’t run…physically if I tried. My recovery sucked. beer, burger and then no stretching, rolling or icing. Just tons of walking around the city. Boston has chewed up my legs and spit them out for the second time. and this one I ran pretty slow even and my legs are still trashed. I plan on doing NOTHING for a week. no light jogs or bikes. Ha! You make me look so lazy. I did get to Mike’s and had some yummy dessert that night after the marathon. it made up for the really awful race conditions. :) So glad you are feeling good Amanda! Wish I could say the same.

  3. says

    I don’t know how to recover from a marathon – I hope that I am at least sore so that will be a reminder to NOT run until I feel completely normal again. I think as you get more and more experienced and reach higher weekly miles, the less time it takes you to recover from the shorter races. Feels like a few years ago it took me a long time to recover from a half and now I am running a half as part of my marathon training.
    J recently posted..Coffee or Tea?My Profile

  4. says

    Just today (thurs) am I walking more normally. However, I do plan a type of “reverse taper” as well for getting back out there. I couldn’t agree more about taking the time to recover – both physically and mentally. The high leaves us ready to go run something else NOW….especially since Boston was just so – different. But we have to remember we still covered the distance (yes quads, I do still hear you) and mentally, we need to celebrate that before moving onto the next big thing.

    I will admit that, as I see runners out doing their normal thing, I can’t wait to be back out there. I think that’s a good sign, don’t you?
    Lisa recently posted..DATDA (Day After The Day After)My Profile

  5. says

    I normally take an entire week off. I might jog playing around with my kids but I’ve found in all 5 marathons that it takes me a week. As in at least 7 days to get back to square one. I’ll swim or bike a little but I’m such a big weenie!!

    I wanted to tell you that I was sorry I missed commenting on your post race blog about the race! I was sick in bed with strep BUT I did read it on my phone and I wanted to say CONGRATS! I know your time was heat induced but the most important thing was that you did the work and you got there injury free and you left injury free!! So happy for you!
    Coy recently posted..Strep HappensMy Profile

  6. says

    I took it so slow during the marathon, my legs were barely sore. I figured an easy weight work out the following day in the hotel would suffice.
    I have to get on the bike since we’re doing 40 miles around NYC in 2 weeks, but as for running, it was 3 easy miles today, focusing on my upper body form since I slumped so badly during the marathon, my neck is killing me. Legs felt heavy and tired so Saturday might be my first speedier workout for 5 if weather allows.
    The treadmill is an absolute REPULSIVE looking thing at this point.

    I’m dying to run another marathon – for SPEED next time, not just for survival :)
    Have a great recovery. Beer helps :)
    Joanne recently posted..Boston 2012: The Hot OneMy Profile

  7. says

    Going to take these little legs of mine out for a slow 3 miler this afternoon just to get the kinks out! Feeling great! Sitting on a plane all day was NOT ideal, but that’s the price, right? Glad you got out and enjoyed! LOVED Little Italy and Mikes! LOVED my burger and beer after the race. And am LOVING reading all these Boston posts!!!!
    Michelle recently posted..Boston Baby!My Profile

  8. says

    After my first, it was pretty brutal, the rest not as bad. After Boston, my quads were ab it sore but feel not bad today. I didn’t race Boston, and so it was pretty much a “hot” long run. So I’m really considering another marathon in the next three weeks…really trying to decide if this is the right thing to do. I trained really hard for Boston, most ever, but didn’t get to “try it out” at all, so feel that it’s a waste.
    Robin Brunet recently posted.."Boston is not a race, it’s an experience"My Profile

  9. says

    Great job and thank goodness for friends:) I can’t believe you were up for running the day after! After my 1st marathon, I was so overtrained that I think it was a while before I ran again. Maybe weeks? That was in 2004 so I can’t really remember. Probably not the smartest way to go. Congrats!
    Hikermom recently posted..2 New Books and Opinions NeededMy Profile

  10. says

    I always want to get back at it sooner than I should, and have to hold myself back. You’re right- recharging mentally is just as important! It feels good to give ourselves that break and the okay to skip a workout if we’re not feeling it.
    Laura recently posted..Three-part-run and wiawMy Profile

  11. says

    Amen sister! I might not like to taper as much as I think I do. I HATE it! But I love my recovery. In fact I take a day off for every mile of the race if I want. And a glass of wine/burger/fish and chips/bag of jelly beans…. for each one too. (I’m only sort of kidding)
    sarah recently posted..two weeks until eugeneMy Profile

  12. says

    I have tried a few different strategies and for me what works best is easy paced short mileage that gradually builds back up (reverse taper mileage roughly). I tried taking days off and I noticed that my soreness/stiffness lasted until I ran again. So I always run the morning after. I leave the Garmin home and go by feel and run to enjoy it. If I feel good and want to run faster I do, if I want to go slow, I do. I just go with what feels good. I also take a week or two off from my strength and core training routines. Good luck with your recovery!
    Erin Henderson recently posted..Things not to say to marathonersMy Profile

  13. says

    i’m glad you had that blood blister!!! take it easy!

    i always go for a walk the day after a marathon. the next few day, easy cross training. i’ll run easy the following wknd and then start building up again.
    Denise recently posted..Training Plan!My Profile

  14. says

    You are so right. Recovery is important. I find the more marathons I do, the better my recovery goes. But there is a subtle lingering fatigue. It is the perfect time to rest up, relax and refresh mentally and physically.
    Teamarcia recently posted..Life Balance Yin YangMy Profile

  15. says

    I know I will definitely need some recovery time after my marathon and plan to take it. It’s so important to care for our bodies after they have been pushed. I never thought about reversing the taper. Thanks for that suggestion!
    Tina @ Best Body Fitness recently posted..I Made It HappenMy Profile

  16. says

    Uh… I never feel good right after a marathon, haha! My body gives me pretty immediate feedback about the stress I just put it through so I have no problem not running right after a marathon. I try my hardest to get back to walking and doing stairs without a limp and once I get to that point, I’m all about the bike and elliptical for a couple weeks. I get back to running for a couple weeks without a watch or gps (I’ll even push the jogger, I’ll just go slow). So after 4 weeks of scaled-back exercise, I’m usually ready to pick back up with more focused runs at my usual pace.

  17. says

    I haven’t run a full 26.2 in a few years, but after last weekend’s 13.1 and today’s trail 10k, I’m feeling GREAT!
    But a little twinge in my knee is telling me I need a real rest week – just like you described – sleeping in, lower mileage. Heck, maybe I should even take a book to the beach!

    Please do me a favor and e-slap me if I try any interval workouts or long-mileage runs this week. 😉
    Beth (i run like a girl) recently posted..Happy trails – literallyMy Profile

  18. Erin says

    Thank you sooooo much for posting this! I ran my first marathon last weekend (Eugene) and feel AWESOME, I want to run NOW… I keep having to come back to your site and remind myself to take it easy for a few more days. Whew, so hard. Just want to jog around town again.

  19. Eugene says

    My recoveries became much better after I’ve started taking Navy Seal Formula manufactured by MGNutritionals. I did not really want to take any supplements but this one is natural and quickly brings me up. I like the effect and I like how my workouts have improved due to this product.