After the marathon
Congratulations! You are entitled to be very proud of what you have achieved.
Immediately after you finish, your priority should be to keep moving. Pick up your kit bag, change in to dry clothes, and put on your medal proudly. But don’t whatever you do sit down, or you risk heat stroke and muscle cramps.
You should force yourself to drink. Dilute sports drinks are best, so that you are getting carbohydrates as well, which aid fluid absorption. Keep drinking even if you feel nauseous. Have a look at the guidelines in Chapter 7.
Your aim should be to get carbohydrates inside you within half an hour. This can be a cheese sandwich, sports drink, a bagel, or anything else you fancy. You probably won’t be hungry, but it is essential to refuel as fast as you can to help your muscles repair. Fruit – particularly a banana – is very good.
Some athletes have cold showers or ice baths after a race, to reduce the bruising within their muscles. I have always regarded this as too brutal, but I suspect that it helps them to recover more quickly.
After about twenty minutes of walking, you will probably want to sit down or lie down. At this point, listen to your body and rest.
How quickly should you return to running after a marathon? Again, listen to your body. Most runners take at least a week off running altogether, and then come back to running gradually after that. I like to cycle during the week after a marathon, as this seems to increase the blood flow and help stiff muscles to recover. Most experts advise that you should take at least 4 days off.
You can spend the time deciding where you are going to run your next marathon …