Post marathon – personal care package
Marathons are a pinnacle point for many in reaching personal goals, fundraising for charities, overcoming pain and grief. We share insights from members of our team, hints on taking care of yourself post marathon as seen from the viewpoints of the ESPH physios, personal trainers, nutritionist and life coach.
Post Marathon Mental Health
Petra, our in-house life coach and counsellor shares some insights:
If you’ve got your physical recovery in hand post-marathon please remember to think for a minute about your mental health. You have pushed yourself by focussing on regular training, healthy eating, injury support and mental stamina to get you across the finish line.
Post marathon body recovery
While your body is recovering physically this can put a strain on you mentally since you: Reached the peak of your adrenaline; Have an endorphin crash as your resources are used to repair your body; May feel a bit lost about what next…
What to do to keep up that Marathon high
Here’s some tips for looking after your whole self:
Be kind for yourself – try not too put too much strain on yourself through work, family or social situations. Allow yourself to leave social events when your mind and body are ready.
Reward yourself – You’ve worked extremely hard and have earned a treat. Celebrate with friends, buy a new outfit, get a muscle massage or take an afternoon of quiet to read and connect to something you enjoy (nature, art, music, film).
Drink alcohol in moderation – While it will feel tempting to celebrate by eating unhealthy foods or drinking large amounts of alcohol be aware that alcohol is a depressant and you’ll want to replace some of the endorphins that are feeling low; so try drinking a fruit smoothie or socialising with friends over brunch to eliminate the temptation to drink too much for a few weeks.
Set a new goal – Marathon training consumes a lot of time and when it’s all over you can feel a bit lost like, is that it, what next? Over the next few days keep a journal to track how you’re feeling, focus on your breath and appreciate all the time you now have to focus on other interests and goals. At the end of the week set 3-5 goals that you would like to achieve over the next few months, these could be as simple as ‘meet up with a friend I haven’t seen in awhile’ or ‘review my job satisfaction’ or ‘book that holiday I’ve been thinking of going on.’
You’ve achieved something amazing! This is a great opportunity to keep the momentum going because you have evidence that you’re a badass and there’s nothing anyone can say that can dissuade you. So now’s your chance, if you were living your life to the fullest, living the 10 out of 10 version of your perfect life, what would be different, what would you be doing, feeling, thinking, being?
Now go do it! You know you can achieve anything you set your mind to so what’s stopping you? Live life to the full and see where it takes you!
Post Marathon recovery – physio Sarah shares her views
Marathon running – stress on the immune system
Training for, and running a marathon can put a lot of stress on the immune system, so it is not unusual in the following weeks to feel a bit under the weather. You may find yourself susceptible to picking up colds or infections so be sure to get plenty of rest, stay well hydrated and consume a well-balanced diet.
Muscle recovery post marathon
It is normal for you muscles to feel sore following a marathon, even up to a week later. You can aid your recovery by engaging in active recovery, i.e. gentle cardiovascular exercise such as walking, cycling or swimming. Combine this with gentle lower limb stretches and using a foam roller. Consider booking a massage for 3-5 days after the marathon, and a deeper sports massage 7-10 days following the marathon. If you have aches and pains persisting for longer than a couple of weeks, or that aren’t improving in the way that you would expect for post-exercise muscles soreness, it is worth getting them checked by a Physiotherapist. And keep those tender body spots moisturized. Keep applying the petroleum jelly or similar to tender areas to keep supple.
Managing the mental high
Often after completing a marathon you can be left feeling on an absolute high. Understandably you feel an enormous sense of achievement. Make the most of this feeling but give yourself at least two weeks before signing up to any other major races. It is very easy in this period to get carried away and over subscribe yourself.
Post marathon running schedule
If you are desperate to run, keep the pace easy and the session relatively short. The aim primarily is to promote blood flow to the legs, not to build fitness. It takes the body a good couple of weeks to recover from the cellular damage and stress on the immune system. The point at which you return to harder training sessions will depend upon how experienced and conditioned you are to marathon running. A more experienced, conditioned runner will be able to return to training quicker than a runner who is less experienced and conditioned. As a rough guide, look to increase the intensity of training between 14-21 days post marathon.
Nutrition & Diet – post marathon, tips from Tess, our nutritionist
Carbs & Protein post-race
Having loaded up on a good amount of carbohydrates and protein after the race and in order to replenish emptied glycogen stores and to kick start recovery and healing of damaged muscles, it is now important to continue the healing process. By focusing your attention on nutrition for the next 2-4 weeks at least, you will help speed up recovery.
Running the marathon puts a lot of stress on your body not just your muscles and your joints but also in particular the immune system which has been found to be compromised for 3-14 days post marathon. A study showed that compared to runners not doing the race, the likelihood that marathon runners developed a cold or flu during the week after a marathon were six-fold.
Rest, healthy eating & hydration – post marathon
Therefore, it is important that you rest as much as possible in the three days following a marathon, focusing your attention on healthy eating and drinking with plenty of nutrient rich foods, water as well as sleep. Short-term you may also find taking a herbal remedy such as Echinacea or nutrient such vitamin C, vitamin E or zinc can be beneficial. Your main focus though should be on getting plenty of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties into your body from real foods such as fruit, vegetables, beans, legumes, healthy fats (oily fish such as salmon, nuts, seeds and avocado), herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and green tea.
You can even treat yourself to some chocolate without giving yourself bad conscience. Just make sure it is dark chocolate or even better raw chocolate (cacao) which contains the highest amount of nutrients and antioxidants of all chocolates. By consuming these foods you provide your body with a wide array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help boost your immune system, fend off free radical damage from the stressful race and repair muscle damage in the fastest possible way.
Oh and for those sore muscles, soak in a bath of Epsom bath salts (3 cups per bath) several nights in a row and right before bedtime. The magnesium in the salts will help relax those tight muscles and give you a restful night’s sleep.