This is the most underrated aspect of a marathon. After months of arduous training, crossing that finish line seems like job done. But it’s not. Running a marathon pushes your body to the limits, anatomically and physiologically. While it may feel going home and crashing on your bed is the best way to recover, there are certainly better ways to help your body regenerate and repair.
Post marathon your body will feel the strain no matter how well you trained for the race. Not only will you have sore muscles, but at a cellular level your body is absolutely battered along with a compromised immunity after the race. So how to avoid the after effects of the race?
1. Clothing – immediately after the race get into something warm and dry. It helps your core temperature to drop down gradually helping your body acclimatize to the surroundings.
2. Diet – if you have run a marathon, be sure your body is deprived of glucose and minerals, especially sodium, potassium and calcium. Bananas or energy drinks immediately after the race will replenish vital nutrients preventing muscular cramps. For the first week, have a carbohydrate and protein rich diet. Second week onwards dial down on the carbs while having adequate portions of proteins to help your muscles regenerate.
3. Contrast bath – post marathon your muscles, tendons and ligaments are torn and bruised at a cellular level, and contrast baths are the first line of treatment. What is contrast bath? It is bathing your legs alternately with cold and warm water. Cold water causes constriction of blood vessels while warm water leads to vasodilation. When these are alternated it speeds up circulation to your leg muscles, creating an oxygen rush which helps in muscle repair.
4. Rest – marathon severely compromises immunity for a few days. Hence the importance of rest cannot be over emphasized. Having proper sleep and massage sessions during the first week beneficial.
5. Workout – after months of training it is natural to want a break. But after 3-4 days of rest, it helps to go out on walks and do some basic stretching. This helps in recruiting your skeletal muscles thereby increasing circulation and hastening repair.
Just like your pre marathon training, you need discipline in your post marathon regime.
As the saying goes “knowing is half the battle”, patience and a good understanding of your body will help you regain your fitness quicker.