You’ve crossed the line and the months of arduous training, straining and street-pounding have now come to fruition after the 26.2 miles of the London Marathon.
But how can you reduce the muscle aches and stiffness in the days ahead and boost your body’s recovery time? Accredited physiologist, Nick Morgan, shares his advice on optimising recovery and getting your body back on track:
Keep moving: “It will go against everything you’ll want to do, but keep moving after you’ve crossed the line. Keep walking and shaking out your muscles - continuing gentle active movements will improve recovery by taking the body gradually down to its baseline and reducing the heart rate to a normal level. The average runner takes over 40,000 steps in a marathon, so stopping too quickly can increase the chances of stiffening up.”
Get your family and friends to carry your bags: “It may seem like a small thing, but after running 26.2 miles, the added weight of all the freebies in your finishing bag will only strain already over-worked muscles further and delay recovery. If you’ve family or friends meeting you, rope them in to carry your bags.”
FIRST 24 HOURS
Wrap muscles with compression technology: “Using SKINS RY400 recovery range will help you feel better sooner. The compression technology used in SKINS is a great strategy for facilitating blood flow to speed up recovery. The targeted pressure supports your muscles, providing extra stability. Worn for at least 3 hours after the race or even as you sleep, they are proven to reduce delayed onset of muscle soreness.”
Refuel as soon as possible: “It might feel difficult to eat anything after all the sweet energy drinks and gels on course but your muscles will be craving nutrition. By eating some carbohydrate (pasta) and protein (chicken), you will kick-start recovery. If you struggle to eat afterwards, try to use drinks, e.g. milkshakes, to feed tired muscles.”
Shower (and, if you are lucky enough, get a massage!): “Showering will help you to recover mentally as much as physically. Even if you can’t face a cold shower, showering and changing into fresh clothing will help revitalise you. If you can bag yourself access to a massage, it will boost your circulation, helping oxygen to replenish muscles faster.”
The low down on alcohol: “Who am I to steer you stay away from alcohol – it is time to celebrate! Just be aware that alcohol promotes dehydration and can slow down the body's recovery process so, if you do enjoy a celebratory drink, go easy!”
THE FOLLOWING DAY
Avoid the stairs: “The one movement everyone will struggle with the day after is walking up and down stairs. If there is any day to take the lift, today you have an excuse to!” The muscle damage will be high, so help yourself and keep life simple. If you can avoid travelling in to work then do so, but certainly avoid excessive distances or too many stairs to climb. If you do have to journey in to work, try wearing the SKINS RY400 tights under workwear – their snug fit won’t be visible under suit trousers and the targeted compression will continue to support your muscles throughout the day.
THE FOLLOWING WEEK & BEYOND
Exercising again: “As everyone recovers at different rates, there are no hard and fast rules but it’s recommended that you allow one week before beginning to exercise again. When you feel ready, begin by incorporating light exercise, for example a gentle 30 min jog or light swim, which will be great for recovery. Build exercise up from here and the week afterwards, introduce further sessions.”
Finally - the next marathon: “If you’ve caught the marathon bug, how quickly you can get back to competing will depend on how experienced you are; the more experienced you are, the quicker you will be ready. For novice runners, a simple rule of thumb is to aim for two marathons per year to allow plenty of time in between - any more than this and it'll be tough to run a personal best!”