Coach Jane’s Marathon Recovery Tips

Many runners spend lots of time planning out their training plans We schedule long runs months in advance and plan our lives around preparing for our goal races. We fret over details like ‘how many miles per week should I run?’ or ‘What pace should I be running?’ We even carefully work out the details of our taper for the big event. However, we frequently neglect one extremely important aspect of marathon training: the recovery phase. Recovering properly from a distance event is just as important as training for one. Coach Jane explains why recovery is so important and gives us her best marathon recovery tips.

-The marathon recovery period should be taken as seriously as the training itself

-Proper recovery will lead to improved running performance, reduce risk of injury, prevent sickness          and minimize risk of developing overtraining syndrome

-The recovery period is meant to allow you to recover from the race and the months of training                leading up to it, as both contribute to the accumulation of muscle and tissue damage and stress on        the body

-Acute physiological effects caused by running a marathon include dehydration, glycogen depletion,       oxidative tissue damage, muscle damage and immune suppression

-Studies have shown that muscle fiber inflammation and cell death induced by marathon training            and racing can persist for up to 14 days

-Degree of tissue and muscle damage varies from individual to individual and are dependent on factors like level of conditioning, exertion during the race, and genetic factors – while 2-4 weeks of relative rest is suggested, the amount of time you need to fully recover can vary SO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!


 Immediate Post-Race Recovery:

 Re-fuel with 200-300 calories to begin to replenish your glycogen stores (whatever you can stomach post-race – can be fruit, an electrolyte beverage that contains protein, etc.)

-Drink (save the beer for 2-3 hours later!)

-Walk for 10-15 minutes as soon as you finish the race to allow your heart rate to gradually  decrease

-Take a 10 minute ice bath once you get home or back to your hotel

-Change into warm clothes

-Put your feet up against a wall lying on your back for 10-15 minutes to stimulate blood flow

-Eat a big meal once your stomach settles (and yes, you can drink some beers!)


  • Relax!
  • One week post-race:

-No running!

-Begin light cross-training 3 days post-race to stimulate blood flow

-Continue to eat a proper diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates to help  boost your immune system, counteract oxidative tissue damage and re-build damaged muscle  fibers


-Stretch tight muscles lightly

-Get a light massage or self-massage with a foam roller or stick – deep tissue massage may  exacerbate muscle damage if done too early

-Get plenty of sleep

-Take 10-15 minute Epsom salt baths before bed

Two weeks post-race:

-Easy, short runs under 60 minutes

-Light strength training


  • Three weeks post-race:
  • Gradually build into longer runs and add more intensity

Failing to give your body time to recover can lead to a longer recovery period and possibly even injury. It is important to take time to allow your body to heal and rebuild itself following a difficult race effort. Be kind to your post-marathon body. Use the extra time to do something fun and relaxing. Spend time with your family and friends. Read a good book. Catch up on sleep. Take time to reflect upon and enjoy your success. As you plan for your next big event, your body will thank you for taking time to allow it to recover!

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