Saturday, November 24, 2012

Marathon Recovery

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We stayed in DC and had our own little feast down here. I made the pie, Tom made the turkey. Even Wilson got to join in with his own turkey dinner.

This Thanksgiving I was thankful for many things, but I won't get into all of them. One of the things I was thankful for was the ability to walk again after my race. Seems silly, but I was so happy to finally walk like normal on Wednesday. Here's a few words on my recovery and on marathon recovery in general.

Getting Back into Running

Recovery has been going alright. My left calf was still tight yesterday and my right hamstring is still bothering me a little. I normally take a whole week off before starting to run again, as most Google 'marathon recovery' searches say to do, but I really wanted to do the Runner's World Run Streak. I've put in a total of five miles since Thursday: One on Thursday, two yesterday, and two this morning.

They were SLOW!

I laughed the first time I started running on Thursday. My body is just not ready for it. I was so stiff and could barely move my feet. I took it very easy. 

Some people can run the day after a marathon. Some people need a week or two off. I know that I cannot run the day after. My high school XC coach gave me some great advice before my first marathon in 2008. One of the things he said was to make sure I got out and walked a little the day after the run in order to loosen up my legs and help in the recovery. I make it a point to walk 1-2 miles the day after any marathon, and this year it was easy since I walk so much at work. I usually continue with walking workouts until a week has passed since the race, and at that point I do a slow 3-4 mile run. 

Tricks I've learned over the years to deal with marathon stiffness/soreness
  • Warm showers/baths the days after the race help to loosen your muscles so you can get a good stretch in.
  • Massage! Try to book one two days after your race. Unfortunately I haven't been able to get one after my last two races.
  • Walk down stairs backwards. Try it. It hurts far less than walking the normal way.
  • Hand railings are your best friend. Suddenly you will notice every hand railing in the building you work in or the apartment complex you may live in. They are quite helpful when getting up stairs. 
  • Use shopping carts as walkers in a grocery stores
  • The toilet roll dispenser in a bathroom helps you steady yourself when your quads and hamstrings do not want you to sit down on a toilet
  • Water. Drink lots of it. You body needs it to help recovery and flush out any toxins. 
  • Stay off your feet as much as possible. Use your wheely office chair if you need to get around. Why do you have to stand up and walk if it has wheels and there is a clear path? Chair races anyone?
The Immune System
My recovery has also been impacted by a cold I woke up with on Thursday. Seriously, it would not be Thanksgiving if I didn't have a cold. I don't know how I manage to get one at this time every year, but this year I can understand. With every marathon finish comes an increased chance for colds. Marathons take so much out of your body that you're left with a suppressed immune system. 

You need sleep.
You need a healthy diet.
You need lots of rest.
You need to not be around pre-teens/teenagers that are carrying colds!

I didn't listen to any of those things above: lacked sleep immediately after the race, didn't eat as healthy as I could of, was on my feet all day, and yes, got to hang out with the kiddos all day. Thankfully, this vacation is giving me plenty of opportunity to rest up and get better.

I get the weirdest cravings after marathons. One website I read said to give into those cravings. They are your body's way of telling you what you're in need of.

With Boston I was craving vanilla ice cream and animal crackers. I can understand the ice cream (it was 89 degrees), but what is my body missing that animal crackers has to offer? I don't know!

This time I was craving blueberry muffins and tuna salad sandwiches. SO ODD!

When you recover from a marathon it is important to properly fuel immediately after the race and in the days following the race. Eat when you want, but be sure to eat healthy. This whole healthy thing is something I am still trying to work on....

I'm not sure how long "marathon recovery" typically lasts for, but I'm just going to focus on keeping myself healthy and taking it slow on runs for a while.


  1. I'm glad your recovery is going so well!! I had to chuckle at your comment about being around kids and getting sick. I had a head cold about a month ago but still wanted to run. Just for fun I Googled "can you run if you're sick" and came upon an article that explained if it's above the neck, yes you can run, etc. The kicker was that the article had a list of ways to prevent getting sick. One of the things on the list? "Stay away from children." HA!

    I can't believe how many marathons, 5K's, and halves you've run and how freakin FAST you are!! You're like superwoman!

  2. Kudos to you for doing the RW streak despite still being a little stiff. Great tips on marathon recovery too. My eating could definitely be healthier (I mean I don't eat junk all the time lol) but its a work in progress. Sounds like a nice intimate turkey day u had and I'm sure mr. Wilson appreciated u guys being home too! ;) hope u feel better and I really hope ur not eating the blueberry muffins and tuna fish together hahaha ;)