Marathon Recovery Tactics to Keep Running Faster for Longer [9]

marathon recovery

Marathon Recovery

It’s time to get tactical on marathon recovery.

Implement these strategies to keep running faster for longer over 26.2 miles.

And as we’re talking about transitioning from one campaign to the next…

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Mark: We were chatting, weren’t we, a little while ago about what happens after a race.

Dave: Absolutely.

Mark: Because I know when I used to do a lot of training… a big body builder…

Yeah I was… That, if you were building up to something, you got to it, and then you went…

“Now what, I’ll start preparing for the next thing…”

Dave: Yeah.

Mark: Now, for something like a marathon, I would have thought, that’s it’s even more crucial that you get the time between your marathon you just finished and the next one right.

Dave: Spot on.

Multiple Marathon Recovery

Mark: So what should we be doing if we’re running marathons one after the other as it were, or consecutive marathons?

Dave: Great question. Yeah, I call it “Marathon Break Time” because, you really do need an active rest.

I’ll explain why it’s an active break.

Before I do that, it’s absolutely imperative that you find your recovery sweet spot because it’s obviously not going to be great if you try and get back out there too soon.

Although I say “obviously” people do, do that.

But then, it’s equally sub-optimal, say if you give yourself such a long rest that you actually lose some of the fitness gains that you’ve improved in that long campaign.

Mark: How do you find that recovery sweet spot?

Marathon Muscle Recovery

Dave: Firstly, you don’t just listen to your body because that can give you a false positive for when it’s time to get back into training.

Recovery is more than just overcoming the initial soreness, stiffness, and then the obvious feeling of post-race fatigue.

Because that’s going to dissipate in a day, maybe two days.

But the actual damage, because let’s get real about this, this is micro-tears and damage to your muscle cells, that can take up to two weeks, that kind of period.

Mark: Even if you’re concentrating on a marathon type of exercise, you put it like that…

Dave: Yeah.

Mark: Between races do you want to do exercise that doesn’t involve the same muscle groups?

Dave: That’s a great question.

All through the marathon campaign, I’ve been banging on about specificity.

And then when we’re talking about recovery, we’re actually talking about variety and providing recuperative, complementary exercises that enhance the recovery.

Let’s face it, marathon running is very challenging and demanding and encourages that locked-in, marathon-type body for all that time.

You want to carry over your fitness gains, not niggling injuries!

Particularly if you’ve done well. If you’ve done well in a marathon, there’s that temptation to keep hold of that fitness and then to get up to the next level and get back on the road.

I can understand it from a psychological viewpoint, but it’s dangerous because of the aforementioned muscle damage.

Frankly, I think all these things are quite holistic, it’s not just the physical side of it.

Break from Running After Marathon

Friends and family have got a say here! I think it’s a really important time to just take a step back and, I’m not going to tell people what to do…

It’s up to them, but perhaps get out on the trail walks or watch some films. Whatever floats your boat…

Mark: It’s a great time to take the kids out to the theme park or take them swimming or something like that.

Do exercise, but hide it as fun as it were!

Dave: Exactly! And get the family involved.

Because in any campaign, there is an element of sacrifice.

Where, you’re not only sacrificing your own quality of life in a kind of varied sense, but your family or friends or even work colleagues can suffer from that.

Mark: You mentioned phases earlier.

Dave: Yeah.

Mark: I take it that’s there’s a phased approach to the recovery time?

Dave: Absolutely. This is a reversal of the main campaign that’s truncated into a much shorter block of time.

Resting After a Marathon

So what I would advocate is initially, just taking one or two days complete rest, no active recovery or anything like that.

Just relax, take baths and all that kind of stuff. Just really take the time to properly recover.

Mark: It’s a bit of pampering. One of your famous Ps!

Dave: One of my famous P’s comes up again!

The macho guys and gals who want to get out and they’re stomping around, kind of resist this but that’s why I provocatively use the word. I think you do need to pamper yourself.

Active Recovery from Running

But then, after that couple of days of complete pampering, this is then the time to bring in some cross training.

But even here, it’s a phase within a phase, if you like.

Because I would bring in different types of cross training as you go through this little period.

I would start off with very gentle cross training like swimming, get a sports massage to ease some of the lactic and address some of the sore areas.

If you can, if you’ve got the gear and the facilities, do some aqua running.

Trail walking perhaps… What I’m saying, is very light aerobic exercise

Which is more designed for recovery and accelerating the movement of waste products out of your body and that kind of thing.

Rather than building up any aerobic fitness.

Mark: I just want to jump onto massage, because sports massage is very different from going for a normal massage, isn’t it?

There are things that sports masseur are more knowledgeable about if I’ve understood it right,

Dave: Yeah.

Mark: A normal masseur, if they’re doing too hard, they can actually exasperate any problems you might have picked up in the run.

Dave: Yeah. This is why it’s not in that little pamper segment because it actually can be quite a rigorous session.

They will find any knots in your muscle fibres and they will work specifically, if you tell them, areas of your body like the hamstrings or the calves are particularly tight or need more work, they will work on that.

It’s more about getting you functionally back into good shape rather than pampering you with oils and aromas.

Mark: So we’ve got pampering.

Dave: Yeah.

Mark: We’ve got a little bit of gentle exercise and that sort of thing.

Dave: Yeah.

Mark: What comes next?

Post Marathon Cross Training

Dave: What comes next is, you’re still not running but what you’re starting to do now, is maybe get the bike out and do something a little bit more rigorous that’s still in what we call the easy aerobic zone.

You could benefit a lot from swapping the modalities around a bit.

So, a bit of biking, a bit of rowing if you’ve got a rowing machine. Or a bit of trail walking. Whatever suits you best and whatever you enjoy.

I still think the onus here should be on enjoying the recovery and making the most of it rather than getting overly earnest!

Marathon Celebration

Mark: And not only that, when you’ve finished a marathon, you do have time to reward yourself, don’t you?

Dave: Absolutely.

Mark: You’ve done the marathon.

Dave: You have.

Mark: You’ve put in all the work to get there, it is time to reap the benefits.

Dave: It is. Celebrating success is absolutely crucial.

Because, believe it or not, a lot of clients that I’ve worked with suffer from poor motivation, even after they’ve run a good marathon!

There’s a sense of, “Can I repeat this?” It’s the first question they ask themselves.

And a lot of it is because they don’t allow themselves to get out of that mode and do other things…

Friends and family, pursue their own interests…

So that they can come back not only physically recuperated, but psychologically motivated to pick up a new challenge.

Mark: Yeah. Excellent. So we’ve had three things now, knowing you, there’s going to be at least a fourth!

Dave: There’s a fourth and a fifth!

Running After a Marathon

So, the next stage is we get our running shoes back on.

A new pair of running shoes after a long campaign that nevertheless have been worn in.

You do some easy running and I really encourage you to get off-road as much as you can.

Don’t try and set pace targets, don’t wear your watch, try and enjoy it as much as possible!

I would enter what I call the “Trails Phase” again, which is more the focus on time on your feet.

Less concerned about the watch per se, in terms of pace.

And getting into nice, scenic, undulating, different surfaces, that kind of run.

Mark: Basically enjoy the running.

Dave: Exactly.

Mark: Enjoy the thing that you’re doing out in the country, whatever it happens to be.

Dave: Exactly. It’s your hobby, assuming you’re not a professional.

It’s your hobby so the enjoyment has to come out somewhere.

I know the thing I’m working on is Marathon Time Breakthrough, but if it was all just the earnest pursuance of faster marathon times, you’d be missing something.

Mark: Yeah. That’s excellent advice.

Marathon Coaching Sessions

Dave: I’ve been offering free 30 minute one-on-one video calls with me to plot out your fastest path to marathon success.

Like all good offers, this has to end soon, so I don’t run out of time to serve my paying clients.

As we’ve been talking about transitioning from one campaign to the next, I’ll keep it open this week.

Mark: So basically, if I can encapsulate a few things you’ve said, when you’ve done your marathon, enjoy what comes after.

Dave: Yeah.

Mark: Don’t start training too soon, but don’t leave it too long.

Dave: Absolutely.

Mark: And then when you’ve gone through all those things, really enjoy all that you’ve worked to accomplish in getting that new time or whatever it is.

Dave: If I had to put it into a sentence, savour success then slowly start back.

Please leave any comments you have on marathon recovery below. 

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