Running a marathon or a half marathon is a tiresome experience. At the end of the race it is normal to feel hungry, exhausted, thirsty and pain all rolled into one. I remember the feeling I had after finishing my first marathon. I just wanted to sit down, eat and drink a cold beer. My best friend who we had ran together was in so much pain and he swore he was never going to run a full marathon again! (That was an over reaction in the hit of the moment..the next year he was the first to register for a marathon)
The fact is a marathon sucks out every ounce of energy in your body. There are several things you can do to help your body recover, and depending how you feel, set you up for the next long run.
Don’t do these mistake.
After crossing the finishing the one thing in you craze most is rest. You just want to seat down and eat. Sitting down for a meal straight after your run might help replenish your lost energy but without stretching the likelihood is that you won’t be able to stand up again after you’ve finished eating!
After crossing the finish line you want to be going for a little walk around the finish enclosure, doing some light stretches and then start replenishing your sugar levels. Follows these simple steps and you’ll be thankful in the days following the race.
Take a moment to cool down properly
If you’ve just completed a marathon then getting some high energy food in you is a good idea but you can do this whilst standing or preferably strolling around. Then take a proper walk after eating and drinking for at least 15 minutes or so. Try to resist heading straight back to your car or the nearest bar and make the effort to do that walk. You’ll be glad you did! Of course you will also probably want a shower and some fresh clothes, if not for your sake then for others!
Refuel and Rehydrate
Follow this list of actions as soon as you finish and you cant go wrong:
1. Consume some energy gel
Consume a packet of two of gel the moment you cross the line to start the replenishment of lost energy straight away. Gel can be brought from all good running stores and health stores too.
2. Drink some isotonic sports drink
Whether its your own made up drink or a pre-mixed one make sure you consume a bottle or two of sports drink to rehydrate your body. Alter the quantity of liquid according to the conditions, so if it is a hot day then drink more as you will have lost more fluid during the race.
3. Eat foods like bread and fruit
You might not feel hungry but your body will need fuel. The more energy you can replenish the less severe your fatigue will be and the better you will feel in the following hours and days. Bread and fruit offer simple carbs and sugar so are perfect foods to eat. Try to stay on the move while you eat and drink and avoid sitting down as this is likely to cause you muscles to cramp and you could be in a world of pain. I did warn you!
Stretch those Muscles
Stretching is a non-opt out must -do. Before changing, showering, celebrating, having a beer or any of that stuff you must stretch thoroughly. Ignoring this could leave you bed bound the day after the race. Even if you do stretch you WILL be sore, but by having a good stretch you will also help reduce the risk of an injury.
Ouch – A Blister
Blisters are a pitfall if running and if you don’t have any then you are very lucky indeed. Have bandages and sterile pads with you to nurse your blisters after race and be sure to take care of them properly.
Morning After Jog
If you can manage it then a short jog the morning after the marathon can really help to keep your muscles from tightening up. If you can’t face it then some gentle legs movements in the comfort of your house can even help.
Good luck running your race and remember this simple tips!