Marathon Recovery

Even though I may have Marathon Fever, I am being a good girl and making sure I don’t get too excited and jump back into running without recovering from my marathons first. 

My legs actually feel pretty good at this point, but I know a marathon is very hard on them (let alone 2 13 days apart) and they need time to rest, especially with the schedule I have planned for them the rest of the year! 

I think the brain needs time to rest too after being in training for so long, so I definitely am a big believer in taking some time off – both physically and mentally.  How long that time is always depends for me on how I feel, how hard I raced, and what I have coming up.  I re-assess my recovery period after each marathon.  I have taken anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks off of running, just depending on the race.

I have been taking advantage of my extra time and enjoying the warm California weather that I don’t have to run in.  If we are going to have a heat wave I am appreciative that it’s during the week I am not running!

Here are a couple Do’s and Don’ts from my marathon recovery week!


Don’t: tempt yourself.

If you go to a social activity where running might be involved to see your friends, wear flip flops so you aren’t tempted to run.


Do: enjoy the downtime. 

Relax outside, make dinner, have a beer, do things you wouldn’t necessarily have time for while in training.

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Don’t: get new running shoes in the mail. 

It only makes the urge to run worse seeing those pretty clean shoes sitting in their box.


Do: read a book. 

I always have a hard time reading during training.  When I do have downtime, reading makes me fall asleep, so I am taking advantage of it now and getting caught up on my running books!

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Do: play with the pups!

Kylie and Emma are getting extra attention right now and are loving every minute of it.

I am definitely itching to run, but know that soon enough I will be back out there and I will be better off for taking a few days off to recover.

How long do you take to recover from a marathon?

What are your do’s and don’ts?

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23 Responses to Marathon Recovery

  1. daniella @ runner at heart May 5, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    It all depends on how my body feels. I usually take a week or two off from running all together but still cross train and strength train. Then when I feel ready to run again I take it very slow and keep my mileage low for a few weeks until my body is recovered.

  2. Page May 5, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    Copious amounts of wine are on my list ;)

    And maybe hanging out with friends who I normally don’t get time with…hint hint hint

  3. Marlene May 5, 2011 at 7:57 am #

    Like you, I definitely decide how long I need to recover after any given race. What I CAN tell you is that I am really really really looking forward to a bit of downtime, when I don’t have to plan my weeks out to the MINUTE, don’t have to stress about getting to bed on time, don’t have to eat brussels sprouts every day, etc. :P

  4. Michaela May 5, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    I find it hard to be completely inactive, so I like to do a lot of cross-training to recover. Yoga is my favorite recovery activity — I try to make it to class several times a week when I’m on a break from running. I also like to catch up with my friends and do all the things I just didn’t have time to do when I was training.

  5. Kim May 5, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    I usually try to do low impact workouts to work out any of the lactic acid build up and take advantage of the extra time to get rest and spend time with friends :)

  6. Melody May 5, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Thanks for the reminder! I’m only a few days into my recovery and I’m antsy to do something :-) But honestly, it has been really nice to just hang out and do things for myself (pedicure, massage, etc) without feeling guilty. What races do you have planned for the summer?

  7. kristen May 5, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    I thought you were going to say don’t read a running book because it will only make you want to get back out there asap. That’s what it does to me at least.

    I like your do wear flip flops. Good one.

  8. Kate May 5, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    I just found your blog, its so inspiring! I am hoping to get back into running when I return to the States soon (I am currently studying abroad in Spain). Your posts will definitely help me get into a routine again =)

  9. Kristen May 5, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    DO: drink beer, eat pizza, enjoy the time off
    DON’T: drink Gatorade, count calories, feel guilty

    Enjoy the recovery

  10. LindaV1959 May 5, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    It took me longer to recover physically from LA, but shorter emotionally. I started searching for my next marathon that recovery week. I think it depends on each experience.

  11. Michelle May 5, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    I could have run yesterday (only 2 days after the marathon and big BQ/PR!) but I decided to just enjoy these few days with my husband, kids and pets! Like you, I’ve enjoyed beverages, a few extra calories and just some quiet time. I’m actually getting really giddy about my first run! I can’t wait to just go run, for the sake of running! No time, no pace, no distance…just me and the road!

  12. Emily May 5, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    do: sleep in and stay up late.

    do: eat lots of candy especially if you run a marathon immediately before reeses egg season aka easter

    do: recruit your significant other to massage your legs on a nightly basis

    don’t: have a light week at work leaving you lots of time to sign up for new marathons.

  13. Angela @ MyPinkyToes May 5, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    These are great tips. While I’ve never ran a marathon YET, I ran my first half a few weeks ago, and I didn’t know anything about recovery. My legs are still paying for it!

  14. Kristy@RunTheLongRoad May 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    Since I just ran one on Sunday, I have been enjoying sleeping in! And, I have plans on Fri and Sat night so I can stay out late, drink, and have fun without worrying about getting up for a 20-miler!

    That being said, I’m itching to get back to running and will do a few easy runs this weekend!

  15. Roadbunner May 5, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    I am debating going on a short 2 mile run this evening — I rarely take more than a week off. Since I’ll be in furnace hot Hawaii this weekend, I doubt I’ll go much farther than 4-6 miles before next week. I know a lot of people are into running again right away, but I agree with you — recovery is important!

  16. J May 5, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Do use that foam roller! Don’t schedule a 5k, 7 days after a half! opps! lol!

  17. Ari May 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Great list… keep up the great work!

  18. Beth May 5, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    Definitely don’t push it. Take tons of rest and let your body fully recover. Looks like you’ve got that under control :)

  19. Susan - Nurse on the Run May 5, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    I usually get back into running pretty quick after marathons, but that’s just because I like to run and usually have some sort of race on tap right away. I’ve got some time until my next marathons, so I’m taking a little extra time off this time around. Gotta let those legs heal after the beating you gave them!

    Taking in all the food that SF has to offer has definitely slowed my return to running…so worth it!

  20. Jess May 6, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    I usually do a “test run” after 3-4 days of complete rest. Then I take it from there. After Austin, my quad still felt bad during my test run, so I took another 3 days off. It really depends on how injured I get during the race.

  21. cindylu May 8, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    I’ve done one marathon and did an easy 3 mile run four days after. I tried to do some walking the days after the marathon. I got back to my pre-marathon schedule (without the 18-20 mile runs) a week later. I felt that was sufficient. I think getting a bad cold after the LA Marathon, being on spring break helped me to be okay with the rest.


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