The moments after a race are just as important as the training leading up to the race and the miles logged during. While the proper premarathon training is key to preparing your body and helping it recover faster, so too are the first few hours after crossing the finish line. Once you've finished the race, turn to these recovery tips that will have you well on your way to a celebration. Congrats!
- Walk it out: Right after a marathon, you should continue to move to help reduce any stiffness. If you were in a full (not half) marathon, then walking for at least a mile should be sufficient — even if that means walking back to your car. Walking keeps your blood circulating to help repair damaged muscle tissue.
- Stretch: Stretching after a marathon will help reduce your risk of injury and bring length back to overworked, tight muscles. Focus on these marathon stretches that place emphasis on your legs and lower back.
- Change into dry clothes: Changing into warm, dry clothes will help your body return to a normal temperature. You don't want your soaking-wet clothes to make you cold, and you don't want to expend extra energy trying to stay warm.
- Drink lots of fluids: It's important to stay hydrated after a race, especially with beverages rich in electrolytes, carbs, and protein, to replenish your muscles after running 26.2 miles. It's also important to refuel with a snack to keep your energy levels up. Your body will be depleted of calories and will need some carbohydrates for nourishment!
- Ice any painful areas: If there are any areas on your body that are in a lot of pain, then be sure to ice them in 15-minute intervals for the rest of the day and again the following day as needed. This will keep swelling down and reduce permanent injury.
- Recover at home: Once you get home, take the time to let your body recoup, recover, and heal. Within the next week or two, you can gradually ease into running again, slowly increasing your distance so it isn't a shock to your system. And feel free to schedule a massage the week after a longer race to help rub out any kinks.
— Additional reporting by Emily Bibb