Respect the Recovery Time After a Marathon

Almost all marathon runners are in full-blown recovery mode at this time of year. There are a few big races left this fall before we all should be collectively putting our feet up as we plot and plan for spring races. Recovery is an overlooked and undervalued part of marathon training. If this season of downtime isnít taken seriously, many runners will be spending the spring season at a physical therapistís office, instead of crossing a finish line.

While recovery takes more than a week, that first week after a marathon is possibly one of the most crucial time frames for an athlete. The damage done by running a marathon is extensive and must be respected. Nearly every system of the body takes a beating during a 26.2 mile race. The skeletal, the muscular, cellular and immune systems will all be compromised after a marathon, and they must be babied in order to get back in working condition. When athletes ignore recovery, injuries and illness follow.

Generally, most runners are encouraged to take at least an entire week off. For most this means no running, but experts are all saying it should just mean, “No exercising, at all.” This is hard for marathoners. However, not only does it let the deep muscular damage start to heal, it lets the mind recover too.

During this period of time itís great to stretch, catch up on sleep and eat. It should be a time of celebration and relaxation. While eating and drinking is fun, itís also a crucial part of the process. Runners need to restore electrolytes and start healing muscles with protein. Extra indulgences that werenít allowed during training can be taken after the race too. Iíve had a nutritionist tell me to specifically go eat some fried food. She knew I needed the fat to aid in muscle recovery and she knew my mind needed permission to cut loose after all those weeks of strict discipline.

A week of total downtime and then several weeks of easing back into running wonít cost a runner their fitness. In fact, if their goal is to be extremely fit, like an elite, they should take a cue from some of the elites. Olympian Desiree Davila took two full weeks off after finishing her second Olympic Trials Marathon. Additionally, Olympian Meb Keflezighi was forced to take three full weeks off leading up to the 2012 Olympic Trials. That rest time got him a new personal best, a first place finish, and a ticket to the London Olympics. These athletes know how to respect recovery.

Respect your recovery and enjoy it too. Itís part of your victory lap, but itís also part of your training for the next race. Eat, drink, be merry and prepare for your best season yet.

by Lacy Hansen from


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Paige W.
Paige W.2 years ago

I always use a golf ball muscle roller to massage and really dig into my muscles which feels amazing and then I also take Biosteel supplements which helps my muscles recover after i run. Check it out and see what you think?

Kate S.
Kate S4 years ago


Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

Won't be doing any marathons--but thanks 4 the info!

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

Take good care

Rachael Clark
Rachael Clark4 years ago


Autumn S.
Autumn S4 years ago

thank you

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson4 years ago


Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Barbara V.
Barbara L4 years ago

Wish I could run, but if I tried my knees would never, ever forgive me. However, I can walk quite a distance.

Alina Kanaski
Alina Kanaski4 years ago

Thanks for sharing!