London Marathon Recovery:
We would like to help you with your recovery from the London Marathon. But, first of all, congratulations!
If you completed the run it must be a huge relief. What once may have seemed like an impossible challenge is now achieved. You have completed your first London Marathon. It’s time to put your feet up … literally!
London Marathon Recovery – Physical
The most obvious part of the recovery is the physical aspect. No one could have described how physically depleted you would feel after the event, but now you know! It would have been too frightening to contemplate how severe the after-effects of the run would be. The truth of the matter is, you have put your body through shock.
Put another way, you have put your body through mild trauma. It was all for a good cause, but the extent of what you have gone through shouldn’t be underestimated. In these early days, your body is far more vulnerable in many ways. Your immune system is more compromised. Your muscular-skeletal system has taken a battering. And your digestion and sleep may still become compromised.
The Rs – Rest, repair and rehydration
Here is a guide to managing the physical aspect of your London Marathon recovery. I would encourage you to focus on what I call the 5Rs … rest, rehydration, repair, replenishment and rehabilitation.
First and foremost you need to rest. Estimates vary on how long you should have a complete rest from running for. Experts say from a minimum of a week up to 2 or 3 weeks. If you are a novice runner I would strongly advise you to be cautious. Don’t let your recent success lure you back into pounding the pavement too soon.
If you rest for 2 or 3 weeks, the loss in terms of your cardiovascular fitness will be minimal. On the other hand, the long-term benefits of the rest will be substantial. Once you’re in a position to start training again, you will quickly be able to regain that same level of fitness. And, what’s more, you have the added bonus of your newly acquired muscle memory.
Next, you must start to think about repairing the body. There are some critical elements to the repair process. Among them are good nutrition, rehydration (on an ongoing basis) and ensuring good circulation. Good circulation is so crucial. Blood carries the oxygen and nutrients to the cells that help repair the body. Good circulation facilitates this.
The goal at this stage is to abstain from or minimise the time spent running. You’ll need to seek alternative means of boosting circulation. You can look at gentle alternatives for your cardio-vascular work such as swimming or cycling. Or, better still, book in for a restorative massage.
The Rs – Replenish and rehabilitation
You also need to replenish your body. Crucially you need to restock on electrolytes. Here are some top tips on what to eat for your London Marathon recovery. Soup, olives, seaweed, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, raisins, cereal, nuts, leafy green vegetables and lentils. These foods will help replenish the body’s sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium needs. Magnesium, in particular, will help you fight fatigue.
And of course, the final ‘R’ stands for rehabilitation. This crucially involves two components, long gentle stretching and further massage.
Psychological and emotional recovery
Many people get a sense of sadness after completing the Marathon. This is partly because something that allowed them to be so completely focused has been taken away. But, it is also because the enormous physical demands on the body have a corresponding effect on the emotions.
Good food and nutrition, as well as plenty of sleep and rest, will help you deal with your emotions. However, it can also be of enormous benefit to set yourself a new goal or challenge. This doesn’t have to be another endurance event, but if you have trained cautiously and started to enjoy your running, you might want to consider entering shorter distances in a few months time. It would, after all, seem a shame to waste your new found ability.
If not running, then perhaps find a totally new challenge; possibly that doesn’t involve pounding the streets for hours on end on a cold February morning!