Marathon recovery

Hello!  It’s marathon recovery week!  I’m expanding the definition to mean “don’t do anything mentally or physically taxing unless it ends with ice cream or watermelon.”  One of the greatest parts about running a marathon is basking in the accomplishment of completing the distance and doing nothing productive for a straight week (also known as being incredibly lazy and embracing it).  The race came pretty soon after the busy spring semester ended, so my brain is loving this break too.

And Michigan is an excellent place to enter summer mode.  The next time I need to calm down, I will look at this picture and say “whishhh lap whishhh lap *seagull noise* “:IMG_8112
*Photocred to Olivia!

Instead of running, studying, going to classes, or hanging out with my classmates (because most of them are in AFRICA–Hello from the USA, Andrea and Bre!), I’ve spent an enormous amount of time reading, shopping, watching the first few seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, and deciding whether or not I like Grey’s enough to keep going (any diehards out there?).

I have a long summer book list that I want to power through, and first up is Lois Lowry’s The Giver quartet.  I remember reading The Giver way back when I was in elementary school as probably my first utopian/dystopian novel, and my mind was blown by it.  Some people find this genre to be weird and disturbing, but I think it’s so interesting.  Each of the four books is a short 150-ish pages, so they’ll be quick reads.

As far as leg recovery, I bounced back easier from this marathon than I ever have before.  When I got out of bed on Sunday morning, my quads were tight and my upper back was sore, but I didn’t have any trouble walking or going down the stairs, and everything felt just about 100% by Monday.  It didn’t help my “lazy-daze for 7 days” cause, but it was nice to not hurt.  I think this is what helped:

  • I brought a protein drink with me and drank it within 30 minutes of finishing (I usually drink these after long races or long runs, though you can also buy it in powder form to mix with water, which is way cheaper)
  • I walked around a bunch on Saturday after the race
  • I hydrated like a champ.  Water, powerade, pop
  • I took a 30 second ice bath.  Okay, maybe that didn’t help, but a real ice bath may have

*I did get a black toenail, my second one ever, which I’m showcasing proudly with flip-flops until it falls off.

I went out for a short run on Thursday evening with a friend (it ended it ice cream, so no recovery week rules were broken) as my first post-race run, and we ran 4 miles.  She was doing a tempo, so we warmed up together and I hung in for the first fast mile, and then I backed down to a slower pace. Pain-free and feelin’ good!  Feeling kind of puke-ish actually because the temps were in the 80’s, but my legs felt normal and happy.  I’m excited that my left hamstring (the naggiest muscle in my body) was totally fine throughout the whole race and post-race.


What do you do to recover after races or long runs?
What do you do for fun when you don’t run?


16 thoughts on “Marathon recovery

  1. After long runs in marathon training I just foam roll, ice bath, stretch, and I end marathon day that way too but then I take a week off running (no more than 1-2 30 minute slow runs even if I feel really fantastic). And I always find some kind of fun food to enjoy that is “special,” a favorite restaurant or if I traveled to the race, something unique to that town.

      • I feel like they really help me, but I try to only do them after really tough efforts like a 20 miler or the actual race. And right after (like within 30 mins) rather than later seems to be infinitely better in my experience.

  2. I try to be super lazy for at least 3-4 days after a half marathon! I remember one time my spin instructor friend wanted me to come to her class the day after a half– I thought I would be fine but turns out I was way more sore than I thought. hah. that was a miserable class.

  3. Generally after a big race I try to do a couple days of intense stretching, yoga and foam rolling. I also eat as much bacon as possible. I’ll throw in a few light runs in the next week, just to make sure I stay loose, but nothing close to tempo and no hills.

  4. Even if it was 30 seconds I am so impressed with your ice bath! I’ve never had the guts to try one. I’m sure walking around a lot the day after helped hugely with recovery. Enjoy your easy runs for a while! 🙂

  5. To recover, I go for walks instead of runs and become BFFs with my foam roller. I try to ice at least twice, but ice baths…bleh. I’m such a wimp. I also do a whole lot of sitting around and doing nothing. I used to love Grey’s but it’s gone down hill.

  6. I love Grey’s! It’s not as good now as it was earlier so stick it out until the main character’s start to peace out…and watch the shooting episode. Glad you’re feeling good, congrats again! I usually try to stretch a lot and stay moving after races so I don’t lock up.

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