How I Recover From a Marathon

If you have ever run a marathon, you are similar to others in searching for the quickest route to recover from a long run or a strenuous race. The recommendations are found throughout the magazines and across the internet. As an avid runner, I have my own special regimen that speeds my recovery, and once again has helped me progress to almost complete resolution of muscle pain and weakness after just 48 hours. Let me list the process I underwent after my marathon:

1. Cool Down
It is recommended in all research I can find that a runner should not stop to stretch or lie down after a strenuous exercise. The cool down can be a simple walk or jog after the race. I walk for at least 10-15 minutes without sitting or stretching to ensure the muscles have time to cool down with a light stretch from regular motion. Sitting or lying down will allow cramping. Stretching may overstimulate the stretch mechanism in an exhausted muscle and produce cramping or even injury. Stretching can be done after the cool down and is a good idea if done at the right time. If the cool down is done effectively, it will alleviate some of the after marathon recovery.

2. Refuel
Any amount of exercise utilizes the glycogen in muscles as an energy source, with blood glucose and free fatty acids. As the exercise level progresses to longer exercise or more strenuous exercise, these sources become depleted more quickly and “anaerobic” (without oxygen) mechanisms are utilized to produce lactate. The lactic acid in muscle fibers or even the muscle breakdown to obtain necessary energy can lead to muscle pain and stiffness. The speed of muscle recovery is determined by the amounts of lactic acid or protein (muscle) breakdown is required to repair the muscles (especially after an exercise is completed).

The University of Illinois did a study on rats in 1999 that showed quicker muscle recovery from this depletion with refuelling with foods containing Leucine (an amino acid) immediately after exercise. They showed muscle stiffness and soreness would subside more quickly. More recent studies have found 30 minutes to be the key time for muscle recovery. The foods eaten in the first 30 minutes after exercise help rebuild the muscles, while foods eaten later have less benefits for muscle repair.

Leucine is found in protein products such as meats and dairy products, as well as in protein bars and some sports drinks. It is not recommended, however, that pure amino acid supplements be taken, because the beneficial amount is not known. In the study, they made the following findings: “It [Leucine] stimulates muscle protein synthesis, provides fuel for the muscle and helps to maintain blood glucose. What really surprised us was that its activity is not seen when leucine or protein is consumed before or during exercise. Instead it has a dramatic impact on protein synthesis during the recovery period after exercise.”

So how do I refuel after a race? After any run, and especially after this marathon, I drank a large glass of milk withing 30 minutes of completing the exercise. Fluids are also imperative as are some other carbohydrates to help further maintain blood glucose and reduce lightheadedness from low blood glucose. When I don’t want to eat within 30 minutes after an exercise, I eat anyway, especially the large cup of milk and/or a yogurt to get the Leucine benefits.

3. Fluids, Fluids, Fluids…
An important part of refueling is fluid replacement to replenish the body. I have a tendancy to start sweating when I think about exercise. I therefore must replace a large amount of fluid after any form of exercise. This replacement is both for refueling and for providing the reservoir for flushing out waste products from the body and especially the muscles. It requires more fluid to carry all these waste products out of the muscles into the kidneys for excretion. Try to drink 6-8 ounces of water every 2-3 hours during the initial recovery period.

4. Hot or Cold?
Everything I have read recommends ice baths or ice massage after a strenuous exercise, and often they recommend avoiding the heat after exercise. I will say now that I aggressively treat my muscle soreness after an exercise (even after the marathon) with soaking in a warm bath or hot tub. Let me explain the scientific basis for my actions. (Note that for me this works really well and decreases my muscle soreness significantly within the first 24 hours and reduces it nearly completely by 48 hours.)

The body reacts to hot and cold by dilation or contracture of blood vessels. Cold (ice) will reduce(vessel contracture) the blood flow into the area or cause the body to pull the blood from the area. Heat will increase (vessel dilation) the blood flow to the area and allow increased blood flow through the area. Since muscle pain is often due to lactic acid in the muscles or other waste products of “anaerobic” muscle metabolism (contracture), heat will allow blood flow through the muscles that can remove these waste products. Heat is only recommended by me during the first 12-24 hours. Ice can be utilized at anytime, but is rarely necessary if I undergo my usual exercise recovery regimen.

I have found through the use of these 4 simple techniques that I can continue to run, recover quickly and not suffer for days – weeks after a strenuous exercise. I plan to continue to train and run marathons and will evaluate the benefits of this regimen after any strenuous exercise. The proof will be in my recovery. Currently I am basically painfree the Monday after a Saturday 26.2 miles…I hope this helps.

Copyright (c) 2009 Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute

Brandt R. Gibson, DPM, MS is a foot and ankle specialist with special interest in running and is currently training to run marathons this year. He is located in American Fork, Utah. His goal is to educate people and help them “optimize what they were born with.” For further educational information, visit his blog at or visit his website at

Article Source:

2 comments - What do you think?
Posted by The Running Guy - April 26, 2009 at 2:54 am

Categories: Fitness, Marathon   Tags:

Marathon Training For Beginners – 5 Steps to Becoming a Runner

Whatever your goals for starting a marathon training program, be it weight loss or the thrill of competition, you may harbor a secret dread. You may be afraid that your initial efforts will fail. Motivation is key in marathon running and we have listed 5 steps to help you stay focused and pattern your training regime after. This should ensure you make it to the starting line for your first race.

Five Steps to Getting Started

1. Begin at the Beginning

If you aren’t a casual runner yet, you must at the very least be a comfortable walker. Begin by walking 30 to 60 minutes every day for a few weeks until the habit of exercise becomes second nature. When you are comfortable walking at a brisk pace of about 4 mph, start to insert a few jogs of 100 yards or so several times during your walk. You should feel invigorated by this new aggressive addition to your marathon training fitness plan.

This would be a good time to mention that you should try to avoid a few mistakes that cause burnout. For example, don’t start out too fast by trying to run a certain distance. Don’t run too hard but you should try to jog for about two minutes, and then walk for two minutes to catch your breath. Another mistake is to run on days when your enthusiasm isn’t there, and you must never tell yourself that a run is going to be hard or a burden. Running is best done with a positive mental approach

2. Begin Exercising For Distance, Not Time

This is a crucial step to get you over the hump of a new marathon training regime. You’ve done some light jogging and are ready to see if you can get into the runner’s mode. So here’s the deal: Now you should stop exercising in terms of time, or “60 minutes” a day, and start exercising for distance.

Start by jogging as far as you can on the first day. Stop when you can’t do any more. The next day, go at it again and try to beat the previous day’s distance. Day by day, you will be trying to get a little bit further. After a few weeks, you’ll find that while you may have been only able to jog half a mile the first day, you’ll be up to 2 or 3 miles (or more) if you are running 5 to 6 days a week.

3. Establish Goals and Enter Your First Road Race

By this time, your health has been improving and you’ve likely dropped few pounds. Next you will work to establish weekly mileage goals. You don’t have to run the same distances every day but at least one day should be an extended run, the longest distance of the week.

By now, you’re starting to build some of the endurance you need for marathon running. Your daily workouts have become a habit and are something you look forward to. You should be including some training days of strenuous workouts in which you work on speed as well as distance. You’ll also be scheduling rest days to help your body effectively recover.

If the idea of a 26.2-mile marathon seems daunting, pick a short race to start your competition phase. A 5K race is about 3 miles and should be an easy accomplishment for your first race. Once you finish your first 5K and enter the next race, perhaps a 10K distance, the experience of the crowds, the excitement, and your fellow competitors will be something you’ve come to enjoy and look forward to. As long as you feel comfortable running these distances, you should begin a proper marathon training plan.

4. Preparing For Your First Marathon

It’s recommended by marathon training experts that you run and train regularly for your first race for at least one year. You’ll be running every other day, which means four to five days a week, and recording (on a training schedule) a weekly average of 25 miles per week. At 3 to 6 months out, you should be doing some long runs once a week of about 9 to 10 miles.

Gradually, you’ll build up to an average of 35 miles per week. It’s not recommended that you push yourself too hard during this phase since you want to avoid injury. For each month, your marathon running schedule will include one easy week of 25 miles while the other three weeks should see an average of +40 miles per week.

It’s not a good idea (and completely unnecessary) to run a full practice marathon before the real deal. At least a month prior to your first race, put your endurance to the test and have one session in which you attempt 20 to 23 miles.

5. The Marathon

Your primary goal is to finish the race, so you want to be sure you take the steps to avoid injuries or blowing out at the half way point. You’re a beginner so don’t expect to keep up with the veteran runners; run at your own pace in order to make it to the end. In fact, start out a bit slower than what you normally average, then pick up the pace during the middle miles.

If you’ve done your year-long preparation and marathon training, you should be able to overcome the “wall” – that moment when your body alerts you that its glycogen is zapped and you’re now running on will power. You’ll be tempted to walk but try to keep your pace. You’ve got 23 miles behind you and can see the next mile marker ahead. Tell yourself your goal is within reach and it’s only a couple miles remaining before you finish your first marathon. And when it’s over, it’s an accomplishment and a high you’ll never forget.

About the Author:

Kevin Urban is the editor at Visit the site for treadmill reviews and comparisons of major brands and over 100 models. Best treadmill buys in 4 different categories.

Copyright 2009

Article Source:

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by The Running Guy - March 7, 2009 at 12:43 am

Categories: Marathon   Tags: