minutes per mile blog

5 marathon recovery tips + my “score” for each

Hello! Despite a broken-down rental car, I somehow made it to the airport yesterday and flew home to Nashville. What an adventure.
On the drive/flight home I had plenty of time to think about a new thing to discuss on the blog today. The winner: post-race recovery tactics! Below are my top recovery tips, as well as an honest score on how well I’m adhering to them. Recovery isn’t as easy as it sounds!

1. Refuel immediately. Just about any nutritionist/coach/experienced athlete knows about the magical “recovery window” that exists after a workout. Basically, you have 15-30 minutes to restock your body’s glycogen levels and help it repair damaged muscle tissue.

My score: 3. I ate half a banana about 30 minutes after my race, and sipped a little bit of hot chocolate another 30 minutes later. My stomach just wasn’t ready for food and I simply didn’t prioritize eating (shame on me). I did eat a sandwich, but I took my first bite 2.5 hours after I crossed the finish line…10181512552. Sleep lots. This is no surprise, but I’ll state it anyways: running a marathon makes your body tired. So, naturally, you might find yourself more tired than usual the days/weeks following the race. Treat yourself to a couple extra hours of sleep!

My score: 6. The night after the marathon, I had trouble sleeping because my leg pain kept waking me up in the night! The following night I slept like a rock (for a solid 9 hours), but then after that I wound up waking up early/staying up late because I was traveling for work — getting 6-7 hours of sleep per night, which is fine but not great. Plus, hotel beds/pillows don’t make me snooze as solidly as my own bed.

3. Eat healthy. As I mentioned yesterday, running a marathon knocks out your immune system. Even though I definitely recommend splurging on burgers/beer/pizza/ice cream after a race, you should also try to fill up on fruits and veggies to help your body fight off illness.

My score: 7. I did a decent job keeping a healthy diet this week, but it was difficult at times since I was traveling and eating out.cooksmarts honey sesame chicken salad4. Don’t run. Your body needs time off after a tough race. I like to wait at least 2-3 days before going for an easy jog — and I’m definitely not doing any speed workouts for the next couple of weeks. I’m doing some light cross-training (nothing leg-heavy!) today and tomorrow and will pick up to 5-6 mile runs next week depending on how I feel. Here’s a nice sample schedule of post-race workouts from Runner’s Connect.

My score: 7. The day after the race (Monday) I took completely off; and on Tuesday I went for a short walk. Wednesday I did a very easy 3-mile jog, and I’m not planning on running again until Saturday. However, I do have a 10-miler scheduled for this Saturday AND a half marathon scheduled for next Saturday, as part of my ZOOMA race ambassadorship! I’m excited for both of these runs but admit that it’d probably be better to sit them out. Oops…0816150955g5. Do something new. I like to treat November-February as my “off season” for running, and cut back on running in favor of cross training and strength workouts. I think it makes me come back in the spring as a stronger runner, both mentally and physically.  I like to keep my old coach’s words of wisdom in mind:


My score: TBD. Since I’m only a few days past the race, I haven’t boosted my cross-training routine yet. BUT, I’m really excited to get into some new workouts this winter! Barre? Yoga? Pilates? CrossFit? Kickboxing?! Bring it all on. crossfit_615_nashville_DSC0010

Question of the day: Which post-race recovery tactic would you give yourself the highest score for? The lowest score?

7 thoughts on “5 marathon recovery tips + my “score” for each

  1. I love this post! Everyone is so different with recovery and I love hearing the different tactics people use!

    Not running for a while is always the hardest for me. I always take at least 3 days off running immediately after the marathon and focus on swimming/stretching. For me, it’s easy to scale back the first week but it’s so hard to keep the recovery going into the second week! The Saturday after the marathon I also ended up running 10 miles and next weekend I’m running a Halloween half!

    Congrats again and happy recovery!

  2. I am pretty good about trying out other things in the winter after my marathon and I tend to refuel properly. Not always good about the sleep thing though!

  3. I don’t have an appetite at all after I run for at least a couple hours. Just the smell of food makes me nauseous. I do sleep lots, and take a few days off.