After you’ve completed the Virgin Money London Marathon, you’ll need to take things easy for a while - you’ll probably be suffering some muscle cell damage and your immune system will be at a low. Read on for our tips to aiding your recovery.
Elevate your legs
Immediately after the race elevate your legs if you can – for example, find a tree and lie under it with your legs raised against the trunk for 10 minutes. This will help reduce the build up of fluid in your legs. This is particularly important for injury prone runners.
Your body can only store a limited amount of energy in your muscles (around 600g of carbohydrate and a small amount of fat). During the Virgin Money London Marathon your body will use up these stores, and then it will move on to your liver, fat cells, and the food and fluid you’ve consumed to get its energy supply.
So, before and after the race it’s important you eat well and increase your carbohydrate intake. This will give you maximum energy stores before you begin and help replenish them afterwards.
Hydration plays an equally important part in your recovery. Drink before, during, and after the race - little and often to avoid the risk of over hydrating.
Relaxation and sleep
Make sure you plan time for rest and relaxation after the race. Going straight back to work the next day will only slow your recovery.
Also try to get some sleep in the day during your recovery period. 20 to 40 minute naps are recommended, any longer than this and you may find it harder to sleep at night.
Ice and cold water
Ice and cold water can be used to help relieve any pain you might be feeling after the Virgin Money London Marathon. Sit in a bath or pool of cold water to ease pain in your legs, or wrap ice in a wet towel to target a particular area. Don’t put ice directly on to your skin without a towel because this could cause an ice burn.
If you’re going to exercise in the days after the race, start with walking. A steady 15 or 20 minute walk will help get you back into the swing of things and help your legs recover, without putting your body under too much strain. You can then build this up to gentle jogging and low intensity running. Check out our guide to getting back into your training programme after the Virgin Money London Marathon.
Throughout your training, going for gentle runs between hard sessions is important. Discover more information about tapering your training programme, and why it’s equally important to recover before the race.
Running on soft surfaces
Running on the road is tough on your muscles, joints and tendons, so when you start exercising again after the race, keep to soft surfaces like grass to reduce soreness. Please note, in wet weather you’ll need to be careful in case the grass becomes slippery, and you’ll also need footwear designed for off road training.
Like running on soft surfaces, exercising in water is low impact and great for your recovery.
The water pressure will also help to remove the waste products and extra fluid that have built up in your legs from all that running. Another benefit of swimming is that it gets your arms working too, so you won’t deplete the energy stores in your leg muscles any further.
Contrast therapy takes your body from cold to hot several times in a short period. It has similar benefits to using ice and cold water, only it’s more intensive and will leave you feeling refreshed and wide awake.
After sitting in a cold bath or applying ice to your body, go straight into a hot shower or spa pool. Stay there until you feel hot and your legs are flushed red with blood. Then go back to the cold water or ice, and repeat the process several times.
Many runners get a sports massage after the Virgin Money London Marathon. If you don’t regularly get massages and you’re not used to them, just get a very light massage or ‘recovery rub’.