There are so many feelings a runner goes through after running a marathon or any other long distance race for that matter. The mind and body are pushed to a point that is far from comfortable. How should one recover you might ask? First of all, try to keep upright, it will be easier to receive that congratulatory hug that way! You should also take a moment to pat yourself on the back and enjoy this most recent accomplishment. Yes, your legs might feel like rubber, you may feel like crying or perhaps have to use the porta potty, but still take the moment to soak up the glory of finishing the race.
Recovery should begin as soon as possible after the above mentioned things are taken care of. Take the weird looking blanket they give you. Yes, it looks like a cape, however, it will keep you warm and feeling like a superhero. Hydrate and refuel; even if you don’t feel like it. Most race environments will have a full supply of easy to absorb foods like bananas and bagels, so eat up. Start sipping water or any recovery beverage of your choice. You can move onto some more exciting food once your body has settled a little bit. Keep moving as you eat and drink as your body needs a cool down period.
Hopefully you do not require the services of the first aid tent, but perhaps the massage tent is calling your name. Proceed with caution! Most massage therapists providing post race treatments should be trained appropriately, just make sure to do what is right for your body. Your muscles are damaged and very angry with you, so be nice. The massage should be short and sweet, that’s it, that’s all. The pressure should be incredibly light and some passive stretching should be incorporated. Now that the party is over, go home and rest. Avoid heat and embrace the cold if you can handle it. Ice baths are extreme I know, but they can make the world of difference in your recovery. The cold will force your blood vessels to constrict, forcing lactic acid and excess fluid out of legs. An ice bath can help reduce inflammation and speed up the recovery process.
Once a few days have passed and you can walk without yelping and feeling older than you actually are, head to your registered massage therapist. Booking a massage 2 to 3 days after your race will be an immense help to your recovery and future races. A massage will relieve the soreness, shorten recovery time, remove adhesions, and improve range of motion. You may even discover things about your body like muscle imbalances or other hidden injuries you never knew existed. You can work with your massage therapist throughout your recovery and training in order to optimize your athletic performance. Massage is a wonderful way to become aware of what is going on in your body and help you reach your full potential!