Post-Marathon Recovery

A week ago I ran the Paris marathon and am still on a high from a fantastic weekend. Rather than feeling the “low” that marathon runners often experience after completing their race, I am feeling focussed on what I now need to do to make sure I’m ready for another marathon (Edinburgh) in just 6 weeks. Yes, at the point where many marathoners are hanging up their trainers for a well-earned rest, I’m getting ready to ramp up the training again ready for another 26.2 miles!

For this reason, my post-marathon recovery is really important as I want to be able to get back out running again, but need to allow my body some proper recovery time too. I’ve mentioned on and off during my training that I was sticking to the same recovery strategy as something about it was clearly working for me so it was important that as far as possible I followed this in the aftermath of the marathon as well – after all, it was an even longer run than my training runs!

The way I see it, recovery starts as soon as you cross the line. Getting rehydrated and having some protein/carbohydrate as soon as possible is the first step to recovering well as your body will have used up all your energy stores to complete the race. After crossing the finish line in Paris, I made sure that I had some water as soon as I reached the aid station and followed this with an orange segment before grabbing some Powerade to carry with me. I then made my way to the baggage store to collect my bag as I had a bottle in it and a sachet of For Goodness Shakes recovery drink.

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I tend to favour this as it has a 3:1 carb to protein formula and the chocolate flavour is really yummy. It’s also really easy to make after a race by mixing the powder with the water which is usually in plentiful supply. The further I run, the harder I find it to eat immediately afterwards, so my recovery shake makes sure I get those essential nutrients in that crucial post-run window as I find it really easy to drink. I actually drank my shake while I was making my way out of the finish area to meet Steve and the others, so by the time I reached them I was already feeling better, despite the sore, tired legs!

It’s also important not to just completely stop but to try to keep moving for a while to help shake out the legs. This was made easier by the fact that we were walking back to our hotel and though not terribly speedy, I was able to walk fairly comfortably. We even had a pit-stop at a typical French patisserie and although I still wasn’t ready to eat anything, I got myself an enormous pain au raisin so that I would have something ready for that moment when I would all of a sudden be STARVING!

It was just about as big as my hand!

It was just about as big as my hand!

Once back at the hotel, I was finally able to relax and sit down for a while, however since almost everything I was wearing was soaking (I had been running through hoses and pouring water down my back) I knew that I had to get out of my wet kit before I got cold so got myself cosy in the fluffy hotel dressing gown before getting comfortable for a while to reflect on my experience and catch up on some messages. I couldn’t stop grinning, but my body was screaming out for a rest and I was happy to oblige whilst checking my phone.

What I found was overwhelming. I had numerous emails and Facebook posts/messages either wishing me luck before the race (I hadn’t been able to check my phone after leaving the hotel) or congratulating me on my time. It seemed that lots of people had been following along on the website or race app and cheering me on from home. It was so nice to know that I had all that support behind me and I really appreciate all the comments that were made. Some of them were from people I’ve never even met but have simply chatted to via the blog or its Facebook page. It was yet another reminder of how wonderful the running community can be and how we all look out for each other. I was able to update everyone with one or two photos and that started the whole process of messages and notifications again – I felt so lucky to have such lovely friends/running buddies/bloggers in my life.

Eventually, though, it was time to move into the next phase of my recovery. First of all, I finally felt able to eat so devoured that enormous pain au raisin whilst my bath was running. Throughout training, I had a bath on a Sunday evening after my long run and followed this by wearing my compression socks for the remainder of the day and overnight. I had come prepared with the socks but first I enjoyed a nice soak in a hot bath (although I must admit, getting back out again was a bit tricky!).

Once I’d gotten organised, I informed Steve that I needed to eat and I needed to eat NOW! The only food we had left in the hotel room was a couple of cereal bars and that really wasn’t going to do it! I had the runchies and needed LOTS of food!

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We decided to head off to Avenue Kléber where Macmillan were hosting a post-race celebration in a pub called Frog XVI. As per the post-marathon “rules” we donned our finishers’ tops and headed off into the metro (which could really do with having more escalators for times like this!). We had been told that the pub had a food menu, so decided that we could go and check it out.

The pub turned out to be part of a small chain of British-run pubs in France which have their own microbrewery. There’s nothing quite like a cold beer after a long, hot run, and we were able to sample one or two of the beers before making our choice. I was utterly delighted with the catchy names like “Dark de Triomphe”, “Inseine” and “Parislytic” – brilliant! We were also able to order a huge burger with chips. I’m pretty sure it tasted good, but I have no photo since I demolished it pretty quickly!

It was nice to spend some time talking about the race with other runners and their supporters and to catch up with the Macmillan team who had been behind us all weekend. We stayed for a while exchanging stories, then left as I was keen for Steve to see a bit of Paris by night and we had to travel home the next day.

Since the restaurant was just around from the Trocadéro (a great viewing platform for the Eiffel Tower) I wanted to head around there in time to see all the sparkling lights on the hour. It was predictably busy, but we got ourselves a good spot and enjoyed the sight of the lit, then sparkling, tower.

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And of course, we took a couple of selfies!

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Whilst there, we also enjoyed a Nutella crêpe (again no photo as we practically inhaled them!) and entertained ourselves with a fun game of “spot the marathon runner”. Folks in finishers’ tops were easy, but there were also a few tender looking souls hobbling around and several having difficulty with even the tiniest of steps. We all exchanged that “knowing look” as we passed by!

We then hopped (well, shuffled!) back on to the metro to head up to the top of the Champs Elysées and see the Arc de Triomphe all lit up. There’s an absolutely fantastic view from up there, but there are also A LOT of stairs to get to the top, so we gave that a miss!

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Then finally we decided we had best get back to the hotel for some rest. It had been a long day but I was heading to bed happy – I had made a good start to my post-race recovery and knew that the next few days would need to be restful, but that was fine. It was a fantastic weekend, a fantastic race and a fantastic trip overall. I really wished I could stay longer, but I also knew that I would be back. In the meantime, in the immortal words of Rick Blaine in Casablanca, “We’ll always have Paris!”

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What do you like to eat after a long run/race?

Do you have a favourite recovery strategy?

Have you ever been to a destination race?

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14 thoughts on “Post-Marathon Recovery

  1. I like to re-hydrate with another zero drink and have a bath (usually at same time!) then I put on another pair of compression tights. My ideal recovery food is roast chicken….it’s my ‘super-food’, not sure why, but my body always feels better after chicken!

    I need to try these for goodness-shakes…they sound effective.

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  2. Great post and a very important topic! Like you, I like chocolate shakes for recovery after longer runs. I suspect that you aren’t suffering the post-marathon blues precisely because you are well on your way to the next one already! 😉

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  3. Sounds like such a great post race, walking around Paris, how special!
    My runs are not that long that I need as much recovery as you, but I do care to drink and eat enough, and take it easy on the legs for the remaining of the day.

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  4. Nice! Congratulations on you marathon. Have you heard of body by vi? They provide great protein shakes that are great for recovery. Check out detrarhodes.bodybyvi.com. And again way to go on your accomplishment!

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  5. Great post. I like to have some chocolate milk after a long run – apparently it has the right combo of carbs/fats/protein. I also like to get my compression sleeves on ASAP. And I’m doing a destination race for my first marathon in October. It’s not Paris but it’ll be fun.

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  6. Pingback: The Recovery Process | The Running Princess

  7. Pingback: Week in Review – The Importance of Recovery | The Running Princess

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