Six tips for a healthy marathon recovery

By Hailey Thompson

Marathon running is addictive. One of the first things I think about after crossing the finish line is what race I’m going to sign up for next. But it’s important to give your body and mind time to recover before you jump back into hard training. After a marathon, your muscles are damaged, your food stores are depleted and you’ve just pushed your body to its limits so mindful recovery is important. Here are my top tips for the hours and days after running 42.2 kilometres.

Keep moving after you cross the finish line

Walk as much as you can. Yes, you’re going to be sore, but keeping your muscles loose is key to aid with recovery.

Refuel and rehydrate

Fuel intake is important to pay attention to in the minutes and hours after a race. A good indicator of how you’re doing is checking the colour of your pee; ideally it should progress from dark to light/pale yellow after a few hours of hydration. Food is also something that should be top of mind. Try to enjoy hearty, rich foods post race.

Evaluate your body

The day after a marathon, you should listen to your body and make sure there isn’t anything out of the ordinary in terms of pain. Soreness is expected, but pain may mean something worse. If you have persistent pain, make an appointment with a healthcare provider such as a family doctor or physiotherapist. Also make note of any blisters or chafing so you can make adjustments for your next race.

Get a massage

Getting a massage post marathon can help reduce pain and soreness. Massage will help reduce inflammation, improve immune function, remove lactic acid and reduce stress hormone cortisol.

Engage in active recovery

The days after a marathon, you’ll want to find ways to gently move your body to promote blood flow and recovery. Avoid any high-impact activities or those that elevate the heart rate. Some good options are easy cycling, walking, gentle swimming or yoga.


Finally, remember to celebrate and reflect on your accomplishments — after all, you just ran a marathon!

— Hailey Thompson is a running coach based in Swift Current. She is a six-time marathoner with a personal best time of 2:57:57.