Have you just finished a marathon? If so, Congratulations!! You have accomplished something only less than 1% of the US population has done! A marathon is an incredible accomplishment and one that deserves some serious respect. Kudos to you!
This week, 50,000 people finished the NYC marathon and I am entering my 5th week after running my 3rd marathon in Cape Cod the same day as the Chicago marathon. Due to all of this, I wanted to share what happens when that finish line euphoria fades away!
In this blog, I will be sharing the common mistakes many marathoners make after crossing the finish line to keep your running journey strong and injury-free! This advice will help you steer clear of five common post-marathon pitfalls, ensuring a smooth and speedy recovery. From nutrition to rest, we cover it all, providing you with the knowledge you need to make the most of your post-race period. Don’t jeopardize your progress by falling into avoidable traps! Join us and learn how to maintain a healthy and effective post-marathon routine.
Whether you just ran New York, ran your marathon like me early October or are listening to this before or after Disney, Houston or Boston the principles still apply to you and they will help you recover properly after your next marathon!
As a running health exert, I help runners avoid these post-marathon pitfalls and guide them toward a more balanced and injury-free running journey. I am going to help you maximize your recovery from your marathon because Recovery is part of the training!
You can also supplement this training by getting your free copy of The ultimate guide to recovery for runners with a ton of supplemental resources, visuals and video content that will help provide context to what you will learn about today.
Listen to the Podcast Episode during your next run!
In this 7 step plan you will learn how to incorporate rest days, sleep, foam rolling, massage, stretching, compression socks, and proper foot care. These have been the tried, true and tested strategies that have kept all the runners I work with on a 1:1 basis as their running physical therapist and coach to stay running by optimizing recovery so they can finally learn how to get over their injury for good and never have it come back again during the next training cycle.
Let’s get into it!
I know you love running… BUT you have to give your body time to recover! This means 10 to 14 days of NO RUNNING. Don’t be afraid of losing “fitness” after your race. You will not lose fitness with 14 days of no running. The marathon that you just ran are going to produce some phenomenal effects in the body and these will continue to occur throughout this 14 day break period.
Muscles become damaged during a marathon because of how intense those 26.2 miles are. The muscle damage biomarkers remain elevated even after your muscles don’t feel sore anymore! That sore feeling resolving doesn’t mean your muscles are fully recovered yet.
The heart takes about 6 to 9 days to return to normal on a cellular level after running a marathon. Give your heart some love to rest & relax!
The lungs and diaphragm are also fatigued from breathing so hard and getting all that oxygen into your body and into your hard working muscles! Your lungs burn after a race because of this fatigue and this creates a change in pulmonary function during and after the marathon.
This all sounds like a lot happening in the body! This doesn’t mean you aren’t strong or healthy. You did something incredible by running a marathon and using your body as the machine to do so! What happens to your body when you run a marathon highlights the importance of proper recovery.
7-14 days off from running will allow those muscle damage biomarkers to return to normal levels. Then you’ll want to gradually build back up into running. After 10 days off, I tried running but I was also coming down with a cold because of lack of sleep from preparing for a presentation I was giving at the CT Physical Therapy state conference on running related injuries! As I was experiencing all of this, I decided to go on one 30 minute run that day on day 10, week 2 post marathon.
Week 3 I ran every other day… 40 minutes, 30 minutes, 50 minutes (11.4 miles)
Week 4 I ran 5 days… 40 minutes, 50 minutes, 50 minutes, 40 minutes, 70 minutes (23.5 miles)
Week 5 I worked on getting strides back into the mix for 2 runs and ran 28 miles.
Ignoring movement and not moving at all 1 to 2 weeks after your race is a common mistake I see often!
Post-race, it is very common for runners to neglect stretching and mobility exercises. This can lead to stiffness and reduced range of motion. Ouch! Regular stretching and mobility work can improve blood flow, decrease soreness, and enhance recovery.
Some of my favorite exercises to do include my 4 hip mobility exercises and 7 foam rolling exercises! You can get both videos in the Recovery Blueprint. Make sure to check them out!
Don’t overindulge in post-race celebrations for too long! It is SO natural to want to celebrate after completing a marathon and YOU SHOULD. You earned it! However, overindulging in unhealthy food and alcohol can hinder your recovery and long-term running goals. Be mindful of your post-race nutrition and maintain a balanced diet.
Not drinking enough water or only drinking water without electrolytes 1 to 2 weeks after your race won’t be beneficial and not eating enough healthy food to stimulate recovery won’t help you either. Eating lots of carbs will help replenish glycogen stores and lots of protein will aid in muscle repair!
Sleep is the low hanging fruit. Reframe sleep as an active recovery tactic than a passive activity you don’t have time for! During deep sleep, human growth hormone (HGH) is released, which helps repair muscles after a hard workout or long run… and you just did a hard workout and a long run with your marathon!!
Once a major race is over, some runners struggle to stay motivated. They may lose focus and consistency in their training. It’s important to set new goals and maintain a training routine to keep progressing as a runner.
Within this, I have 1 BONUS mistake for you! Do NOT try to capitalize on your “running fitness”. Perhaps by trying to PR another race within 2 months of your goal marathon race. Think in training cycles! This is the end of chapter for this session. This is the recovery and base building phase as you prepare for the next big race. Don’t try to PR or push yourself during this time, regardless of how good you feel. You need to let your body properly recovery and allow for those peaks and valleys in your training! As a running health expert, I help runners avoid these post-marathon pitfalls and guide them toward a more balanced and injury-free running journey.
Do you need clarity and focus on how to integrate post marathon training for a more balanced and injury-free journey? Do you need proper recovery exercises for running and learn the strategies of building a strong foundation these next 4 months post marathon?
That is exactly what we do within our Spark Healthy Runner Coaching Program! We teach you how to grow as a runner to not only crush your next running goal but avoid feeling frustrated because you get injured or are not getting any faster. We act as your guide in mastering the six key steps of your running journey Mindset, Strength Training, Structured Run Plan, Nutrition, Recovery, Race Strategy
When you get the structure to execute the 6 key steps of your running journey, you’ll not only feel more confident in getting stronger and faster – you’ll stay healthy and enjoy the process of running again and crush some races along the way and beyond!
(Just like your well-built home if will require little maintenance and bring you a lifetime of memories for you and your family) So will your running!
Learn more about the Spark Healthy Runner signature coaching program and schedule a call now by going to learn.sparkhealthyrunner.com
A big thanks to Naboso for your support for this episode! Want to know what I use to optimize my recovery after my runs? Naboso recovery compression socks, toe splays, and recovery ball from Naboso. Naboso’s textured products connect you to your exercises and your running by strengthening your feet and helping you recover from your runs.
Click here and use code HEALTHYRUNNER for 20% off your entire Naboso order!
Click HERE to be directed to the discount page!
Connect with Dr. Duane:
Dr. Duane Scotti, DPT, PhD, OCS is a running physical therapist, run coach, host of the Healthy Runner podcast, and founder of Spark Healthy Runner and has been a leader in the rehab and running community for 20+ years.
Duane initially started running as an adult, wanting to add some cardio to his gym sessions. After having a hip surgery, his doctor advised him to get off the treadmill and run outside. Without having fully recovered, Duane suffered a running-related hamstring tendon injury and many others as a novice runner.
As a coach, he has guided thousands of athletes back to running, finishing their first marathon, crushing a personal best, and even the elusive Boston Marathon qualifying time.
He is truly living his passion educating the running community that they don’t need to stop running to get over a running injury. Through his signature 1:1 coaching program, weekly videos, and podcast episodes, he empowers runners to get stronger, run faster, and enjoy lifelong injury free running. Dr. Duane truly believes that anyone can run and that all runners should be treated differently when recovering from an injury. He is on a mission to change the traditional thinking that running causes “overuse injuries” or “your body is just not meant to run” and you must “take a break” to get better. Through strength and run specific training you can grow a strong mind, strong body, and just keep running!
Duane received his Bachelor of Health Science degree and Master of Physical Therapy degree from Quinnipiac University in 2001 and 2003. He then went on to receive a clinical Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Ph.D. in Physical Therapy from Nova Southeastern University in 2017. Duane is a board-certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist, RRCA Certified Running Coach, Certified Mulligan Practitioner, certified in dry needling and has advanced training in spinal manipulation and rehabilitation for runners.
As an athlete, Duane is an adult-onset runner, avid half marathoner, and enjoys challenging himself to learn and grow in his personal running journey!
A native New Yorker from Long Island, Duane currently lives in Cheshire, Connecticut with his wife Deb and his two teenage daughters who are competitive volleyball players. They all love to explore new beaches along the east coast.
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You can teach an old dog new tricks!!! I have never considered myself a runner and I knew I needed to be smart about it because I am no spring chicken. Spark preached getting strong and healthy to be injury free and they practice what they preach. I am soooo glad I made the investment in me! I finished my half marathon last weekend and couldn’t be any happier! The program fed me all the steps I needed to essentially learn how to run long distance, build strength, nutrition help, a forum of other runners and probably most important was the 1:1 coaching. I had no idea how to tackle training for a 1/2 marathon and this program broke all of it down, had it individualized for me and we tweaked as we went to make sure I was staying healthy and strong. I had so many questions the week prior to my race and Coach Cat was always there for me and answering all the questions and issues I had-and believe me there were a lot! The biggest benefit I think I got was the strength. I am strong and fit. But most important was what I gained emotionally. I built confidence and strength I didn’t know I had, even at my age. Honestly could not have done this without Spark Healthy Runners!
My Healthy Runner journey started after I had battled bilateral achilles pain for a few months and was frustrated how it affected my running. As soon as I talked to Duane I knew I had made the right decision. His positivity, enthusiasm and genuine care are infectious. The training plan that was tailored to me included specific exercises to rehab my injury and I was so excited that I didn’t have to stop running. It took patience to only run slow for a few weeks but I trusted the process and it got me me to where I am now: running pain free. We made adjustments to the plan throughout whenever needed having someone in your corner that is always there with guidance and support throughout the process was invaluable.
I just ran my second half marathon, both with Duane’s coaching, and PR’d by over 9 minutes! I got all choked up in the last mile when I realized that I felt strong and could still kick it up a notch.
I’m so thankful for the Healthy Runner program, community and the entire coaching team for all the support!
Wanting to run more consistently, and to increase my long run distance and total weekly mileage, I was concerned about hip pain due to hip alignment issues. This is an issue I had when I trained for my first half marathon several years ago. Having listened to the Healthy Runner podcast for the past couple years, I knew Duane Scotti could help. I signed up for the four-month strength and running training program and am extremely happy with the results.
The program Duane and Coach Whitney developed for me was exactly what I needed. It was tailored to my needs and to my target race. Coach Whitney was very helpful, and with the biweekly coaching calls, we were able to fine tune the program based off my performance and feedback.
At the end of the program, I completed a 10K trail race feeling strong and pain free.
I highly recommend Duane Scotti and the Healthy Runner training programs.