Feel amazing the day after your next big race with these great tips on how to recover from a marathon.
This post is sponsored by PROBAR.
Welcome to another great Wild Workout Wednesday Link Up where Annmarie from The Fit Foodie Mama, Angelena Marie from Angelena Marie: Happy, Healthy & Balanced, Michelle at Fruition Fitness and I bring you workout ideas, motivation, inspiration and recipes to try. Join us each week by reading along, linking up and grab the button to proudly display on your blog/in your posts!
Before I dive into this post, I want to call your attention to three exciting things.
- I was the special guest on The Mile After Mile Podcast last week! I shared my experience running The Dopey Challenge and even shared some training tips. I hope you’ll give it a listen.
- I was also featured in an awesome roundup of cooking tips on Learning To Cook Food. Check ch-check check check a-check it out!
- I am officially part of the PROBAR Blogger Network. I’ve been waiting a while to announce this and I think now is finally the right time. I use so many PROBAR products (some of which I chatted about here) to stay fueled for workouts and races, and this partnership means I can now share more of their products with you! WOOHOO!
Now onto all the wildness that is Wild Workout Wednesday. WOOT!
Way back when, I ran my first ever marathon. It was the most incredible experience, but it took me DAYS to recover. After crossing the finish line, I could barely move. I reveled sitting down but hated every time I had to stand back up. Even just walking in a straight line on a flat surface was difficult. After that experience, I vowed to figure out how to recover from races better.
I have since run multiple halves and two more marathons, all the while testing out new recovery strategies. Well, I’m happy to say that I think I’ve nailed it. I ran hard during the Philadelphia Marathon, but the next day, I was walking around and even showed some stairs who was boss. After the Dopey Challenge, I felt like I could have run another race! I didn’t, of course – but that’s all part of the recovery- so let’s get into it!
Tip #1: Fuel properly during the race.
I know this post is about recovery, but if you don’t fuel properly while you’re running, odds are you won’t feel very good when you’re done running. Your muscles need fuel or they’ll start to break down. This was my biggest mistake during my first marathon. I didn’t really fuel at all, so after the race my muscles were toast and I actually ended up getting injured a few weeks later. Now, I make sure to consume some easily digestible carbs every 45 minutes during any race that will take me more than an hour to complete. My go-to fuel is PROBAR BOLT Energy Chews. They’re organic and have the perfect blend of your favorite fruits infused with electrolytes, B vitamins, and caffeine from yerba mate (in some). I really look forward to my little chew breaks because these babies are so delicious. They’re like a little mid-run treat! If you’re more of a gel person, I recommend Vega Sport Endurance Gels.
Tip #2: Run at the pace you’ve been training at.
It’s easy to let the adrenalin and the rush of race day get to you. When the starting gun goes off, you are so excited and just want to sprint toward the first mile. Suddenly, you’ve finished the first half of the race at a pace way faster than anything you’ve done in training. You may think that’s the recipe for a PR, but in reality, it’s the recipe for burnout and even injury. Come the later miles, you most likely won’t be able to maintain your Usian Bolt pace and your muscles will be much more fatigued than they would be had you stuck to your planned pace. Suddenly ramping up speed also places added stress on your muscles and could change your gate, both of which may cause injury. I’m not trying to be a downer, but you do train for a race for a reason. Stick to your pace, stick to what your body knows and you’ll hit those goals and still feel great afterwards.
Tip #3: Eat within 20-30 minutes of crossing the finish line.
You just ran all the miles, and you need to replenish – immediately! I’m not talking a full meal right after crossing the finish line (though how awesome would it be to have a full buffet of goodness waiting for you?). Rather, you just need a simple 100-200 calorie snack with a solid 3:1 or 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio. The 20-30 minute widow and carb:protein ratio is proven to help muscles recover faster. I suggest packing a snack bar in your checked bag, or have a friend/family member waiting with your snack at the finish line. I’m slightly obsessed with PROBAR Bite bars. The carb to protein ratio is just right, and the flavor options are the best. I actually have a Chocolate Cherry Cashew bar after pretty much every tough workout and run. They’re my go-to on-the-go recovery snack. All the flavors are also organic and free of dairy, gluten and soy. Wins all around!
Tip #4: Eat a protein-rich meal as soon as possible.
The post-race snack mentioned above is just that, a snack. You still need to get in a nice big meal after the race. It’s easy to want to go eat all the things after running all the miles, and while you certainly deserve a big ‘ol beer or an ice cream sundae, make sure you’re also getting in some quality protein. Protein and all the amino acids that come with them will help your muscles build back up. I love me a good recovery smoothie with Vega Sport, and this cookbook also has some awesome recovery meal options. If you’re doing a destination race and are busy running around, be sure to keep snacks on you throughout the day. This PROBAR Chocolate Coconut Meal Bar (which is filled with protein, fiber and healthy fats) kept me going post Dopey Challenge as I walked around Disney Springs.
Tip #5: Stretch and foam roll.
Get in some quality stretches and foam rolling time as soon as you can. I get in some static stretches pretty much right after I get my medal and then I usually foam roll while downing a recovery smoothie at home. I really take my time foam rolling. I get my calves, hamstrings, quads, inner thigh, IT band, glutes and back. I owe you all a post on my favorite foam rolling moves, but the key is to find the most painful spot and hold the foam roller there for at least 30 seconds. It’s one of those hurts-so-good kinda things.
BONUS: If you have the means, I highly recommend a massage. It will do wonders for your tired muscles, and you’ve totally earned it. Still do your other stretches and foam rolling, but add this for extra recovery power.
Tip #6: Keep moving.
After a long race, all you want to do is collapse – in a chair, on a bed, right across the finish line. However, the best thing to do is to keep moving. If you lay down for the rest of the day, your muscles will likely tense up and you’ve got a one way ticket to a few days at the DOMS festival. Loosen up your muscles by stretching (RE: Tip #5) and then keep walking throughout the day. Allow your body to rest when needed, but be sure to get up every few minutes for a slow, leisurely lap around the house or go to whatever post-race festival might be going on. Plan a light activity for the day following the race as well, like an afternoon walk with a friend or with the family. I promise it will help.
Tip #7: Get a good night’s sleep.
After you’ve eaten and stretched and kept that body moving, you’ve definitely earned some sleep! Get in your comfiest pjs, pull down those black out shades and get ready for some serious ZZZs. I also take some ZMA supplements, which helps replace zinc & magnesium (minerals that are often depleted in athletes) as well as Vitamin B6. All of these can help with muscle recovery and can enhance sleep quality.
Tip #8: Practice 1-7 during training.
In order to know if all of this works for you, practice it before race day! Make every long run day a chance to go through all of these steps. You’ll bounce back faster after each training run, too!
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How do you recover after a race?
What’s your favorite recovery snack?
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