First off, mad props to everyone who ran NYC today! Especially my friend Martina. Today is her 49th birthday; she ran NYC with an impressive 3:49! Way to go girl!
When I ran my first marathon I was almost more scared of the recovery than the race itself. I'd seen things like this.
But it really wasn't all that bad. Okay, I was walking a little slowly and stairs, ugh stairs. But I've learned a thing or two about recovering from a distance race so Imma share what works for me, with you! Hope you can take a tidbit or two.
TPG's Marathon Recovery Tips
1. Get some protein and some sugar in your belly fast. You won't feel like eating or drinking but you need something in your system. We all know that I swear by chocolate milk. It has the perfect ratio of fat/protein/carbohydrates and is supposed to aid in muscle repair. Plus, it's tasty! There are a lot of other recovery drinks out there but it doesn't get much more natural than milk. Find out what your tummy likes post long run.
2. Keep moving. It's okay to sit on the curb for a minute to catch your breath. I do that too if I've raced hard, but quickly get up and walk around. You don't want those tired muscles to seize up. Resist the urge to take a nap when you get back to your hotel. A slow as you might move, walk around. I promise you, this will help. Some runners like to go for a short 2 or 3 mile slow run the next day. Listen to your body.
3. Take an ice bath. Okay, true, I don't usually take ice baths anymore. I would have this last race if I had had time or resources. It's like icing your entire lower body for 20 minutes. (no longer!) This will really help keep the swelling down. If you can't take an ice bath, try to sit in a tub of just cool water.
4. Foam roll or The stick. The Stick is probably best if you are travelling. That foam roller will take up nearly an entire suitcase! I wouldn't do this immediately after your race but later that night and def the next day. This will help get blood flowing and speed up muscle repair. I talk a lot about repair. Working your muscles that hard creates lot of tiny little tears in your muscles. You need to get the blood flowing to mend those tears!
5. Compression. Ooooh, I love me some compression. I've worn my compression sleeves for a few marathon and let me tell you, it's the fastest way to look like a total dork. BUT, I think they make a difference. I wear them post race too. They feel all snuggly and supportive. Plus, they keep the blood moving in your legs. I have both Zensah and CEP. I like them both - find what works for you. My arms warmers are Asics and I wore them just to keep warm - it was chilly in a tank and 35 degrees!
6. EAT. I have no appetitete after a race. Usually not for days. But I make myself eat. A lot. After MCM I had nearly an entire Chipotle burrito. I rarely have Chipotle and when I do, I get a bowl and have half. But I downed all 1,000 calories or so of my veggie burrito!
7. Drink. Hydrate like it's your job. You need to replenish that water you sweated out on the course. Keep a bottle of water in your paw at all times. (you hear me say this a lot...I'm a big fan of hydration)
8. Sleep. You just ran 26.2 miles. I don't have to tell you, that's FAR. Make sure you get a good night's sleep for a few days after the race. Purpose to go to bed early. Again, sleep aides muscle repair. (and it feels good to be a little lazy after months of training, right?)
9. Get a massage. Hal says it's best to wait until Day 3 to get a massage for optimal results. I got a massage on Monday after my Sunday marathon because that's just how it worked out. But I usually would wait until Tuesday. Your muscles are going to be sore right after the race. Not in a duh, I just ran a marathon way, but sore to the touch. Your arms too! (this surprised me) So waiting a couple of days will make your massage a little more enjoyable and effective.
10. Take an Epsom salt bath. I swear by Epsom salts. Years ago I read that Meb takes them before an after a long run so I figured, if it's good for Meb, it's good for TPG. Dr. Teal makes eucalyptus and lavendar scented salts and they are the bestest. I did buy Epsom salts in DC and took a salt bath the night before and each day after the race. I swear by it.
I'm usually walking normally by the next morning and feeling 100% myself by Tuesday. It gets easier every time you run that distance but I was worried that racing it hard would make my recovery longer. But I stayed true to my routine and didn't hurt a day longer than usual.
Here's hoping for an easy recovery for your marathon!
And bonus tip: take the stairs BACKWARDS. It's much easier going down that way, trust me!