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Guide posted by Andrew M in Beginner Marathon Runners

Post race pick ups - tips to stay on the finishing high

The race is over; you have your t-shirt, your goodie bag, your energy bar and your finishing time. Friends and family surround you, you feel like the king or queen of the marathon trail. But what should you do next? The chances are you will want to lie down, go for a celebratory meal, have a few drinks and, in the short-term at least, you may declare that you will 'never run again.'

All of these measures will lead to soreness, stiffness and a very slow recovery, which might well put you off running. While you certainly deserve a celebratory meal and a few drinks, there are things you need to do straight after the race to minimise discomfort and reduce the chance of injury or ending up in the medical tent.

  • Eat and drink - ensure you have access to gel bars, energy bars or fruit. Either carry extra with you or arrange for a friend meet you at the finish line. Drink a combination of non-carbonated sports drink and water to replace fluids. You may feel nauseous but you still need to refuel as much as you can.
  • Keep moving - walk around as you eat and drink. If there are post-event festivities, change into dry clothes and keep walking around the venue as you soak up the atmosphere. After the marathon, walk at least a mile, and keep moving as much as possible in the ensuing hours.
  • Stretch - this is really important. Before you go back to your car, hotel or the post event festivities make sure you have stretched thoroughly.
  • Treat injuries - there is often a sports masseur available at the end of the race so if you have any niggles try to get them seen to. Failing that, put an ice pack as soon as you can on any sore muscles. Blisters should be treated as soon as possible after the race. It is worth carrying blister plasters with you during the marathon so you can use them as soon as you have finished.
  • Go for a run - but wait until the evening of the race or the next morning. This should be a gentle run of about 20-25 minutes and will help your muscles in the recovery process. If you cannot run then try a swim, a bike ride or some exercise in front of the television.

There is no doubt you will have aches and pains after you have finished the marathon but by following these few tips, you will lessen the after effects and enjoy your achievements all the more.

Have you got any great tips for a post marathon recovery snack?

Responses (3)

Post run snack: Chocolate Milk is a must. ( Protein ingested early has been demonstrated to reduce muscle soreness, 4:1 Carb:Protein ration typical of flavoured  low fat milk drinks has been shown to be optimal. Don't have any links handy - but google should turn'em up - I anecdoatally agree it works. :-)

Go for a run: I think it's okay to leave this 2-3 days as long as you're otherwise mobile - walking/cycling. 

Andy B responded Comment

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Useful even for me who is only at the 5K races, for now. :O) I do feel after the race, as described above, and I always tell myself "never-ever-again", but I always go back. Now, I shall start increasing my race distances to 10K, etc. :O) Thanks for the tips, anyhow.

Andrea H responded Comment

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I always drink some Yazoo chocolate milk and have a protein bar after I have done a long run.  I can't tolerate having an ice bath but what I have started doing is getting in the shower and having it on cold and just letting the water on my legs for about 5 mins each one.  It has really made a difference to how my legs feels after a long run has I no longer have aching muscles.

Nicki N responded Comment

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