For the Love of Running: Recovery Tips for the Novice Marathoner

You ran. You stretched.  You strengthened.  Maybe you followed a nicely planned training schedule, but you’ve never ACTUALLY run 26.2 miles before….at least not all at once.  So what can you expect after the race?

This weekend, hundreds of runners will descend upon the City of Brotherly Love to partake in one of many activities culminating in the 20th Annual Philadelphia Marathon.   Some of these dedicated individuals fall into an elite class:  those who have been through this before and are now perhaps just trying to beat their personal record.  Others likely fall in to a slightly less polished group.  These folks may include what we’ll call the eager beavers, the fundraisers, the bucket listers, or even the dare devils.  Here’s where we want to help.

It’s just two days before the big race so although we do believe that preparation is truly the key to a successful recovery, at this point… well, there’s not a lot of time left for lectures on that.  We do, however, have a few last minute pre-race tips for the novice marathoner along with some advice to avert disaster on the back end.

The 11th Hour Prep

Groom those feet.  Think only long time distance runners lose their nails or end up with bleeding appendages?  Think again.  Cut your toe nails and file rough edges to avoid ugly feet that could easily last until next flip-flop season.

Stick with the routine.  Whatever you do, don’t get creative on race day.  Don’t go out and buy new shoes.  Don’t gulp down some fancy energy drink that you’ve never tried before.  Don’t tape your feet up if you’ve never run that way.  Now is the time to stay consistent.  You can thank us later.

Plan your morning.  Know where you have to be, when you have to be there, and realistically how long it’s going to take to get to the starting line. The last thing you need to be doing is running around before you actually have to run around.

Hydrate, but don’t overdo it.  Keep fluids with you the day before and sip all day long, but don’t chug a gallon of water in the hour before the race.  You’ll end up more focused on finding the nearest porta-potty than getting through the next 26 miles.

Managing the Aftershock

Don’t stop.  We realize this is the last thing you want to hear when crossing the finish line, but we’re telling you… keep going.  Though you may want to collapse on the streets of Philadelphia, stay upright and walk for at least 10-15 minutes at the end of the race.  Your body needs to adjust and walking will help limit cramping and muscle pains.

Eat and drink to be merry.  Have some protein and carbs within 30 minute of your finish along with a sports drink or water.  200-300 calories will do the trick.  If possible, have someone waiting at the finish line with your snack (and some warm dry clothes won’t hurt either).

Don’t make plans after the race.  In fact, if you can, don’t make plans the day after either.  You will be sore, stiff and your body will need to rest.  Do some light stretching over the next few days, but no strenuous exercise.  Just chill.  It’s ok.

Hop in an ice bath.  What?!  A dip in the Jacuzzi may be more like what you were thinking, but heat should be avoided after the race.  It doesn’t have to be a tub filled with ice cubes, but if you want to limit inflammation and soreness, a cold bath around 55 degrees will do the trick… if you can stand it.

Be proud.  Yay, you did it!  Though it may be tempting to celebrate, we advise you steer clear of the local watering hole for a few days.  Your body needs fluids, but not that kind.

Whether it’s your first marathon or your 21st, we wish the very best to all the runners this weekend!

For those experts out there, tell us what you think!  What tips do you have for our newbies?  We’d love to hear and pass them on!

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