Recovery is an important part of marathon training and should be planned for accordingly. Proper recovery reduces your risk of injury and extends your long-term marathoning potential. According to Runners Connect, jumping right back into training and racing will lead to symptoms of overtraining such as:
- Increased heart rate
- Susceptibility to illness
- Negative changes in your sleeping pattern
As a busy mom, marathon training takes up enough time. You certainly can't afford to take on the negatives of improper recovery.
Immediately: As soon as your foot crosses the finish line, give yourself a huge pat on the back, keep moving and drink something. Your best option would be an electrolyte replenishing drink such as Gatorade. Once your stomach is ready for food, grab one of those bananas or yogurt cups they pass out, as well as a thermal blanket because your body is going to feel very cold. Take a long walk back to your car or hotel and rest for a few hours, maybe take an ice bath. After this, you'll be ready for some more solid food, so find a high-carb meal and bask in the glow of your amazing accomplishment!
The Next 3 Days: NO RUNNING! You just ran 26 miles in one go. You deserve some serious couch time. Eat lots of fruits, carbs and protein to boost your vitamin C and antioxidant levels and to rebuild your muscles. It may not be a bad idea to ask your hubby for a light massage as well.
Day 4: Okay, you can run now. But don't push it! Take a 2 mile jog to get back into the rhythm of things, but don't try and force something you're not ready for.
Day 5: Since you went for a run yesterday, do some cross training today. Try some laps or ride a bike, but only if these are things you did in your training process. Now is not a good time to try something new.
Day 6: You should be feeling pretty good by now and your muscle soreness should be gone. You can go back to your old routine but still take it easy. Try a 3 mile run today and don't push it.
Days 7-14: This next week, do three to four days of 5-6 mile, easy runs. That means don't go for speed, just an easy pace, and try to avoid any giant hills. You may be feeling pretty good at this point but your body is still in recovery mode so take care of yourself.
Days 15-21: Now is the time to start building back into your routine. Take a 4-8 mile run, four to five days this week. These runs don't have to be as easy as last week's, but try to make one or two an easy run, one of medium difficulty and one fairly challenging.
After this, your recovery period should be complete, and you can resume your normal exercise. Make sure you wait at least six weeks before participating in another race. You may be on a high after completing a marathon, but pushing yourself before you're ready will only lead to injury. Be proud of your work and keep it up!