by Dathan Ritzenhein | Nov 24, 2012 |
I often get the question, “how has your recovery been after a marathon?” I find it interesting because it can be so different after each race. Recovery has different stages, and being ready to train again does not always mean you are fully recovered. A lot of factors go in recovering post marathon, how fast you ran, the course, and your training build up are all factors in how to plan your recovery. Also, the type of recovery can also be dependent on the individual. Whether it be active or sedentary, recovery is extremely important.
For the 2012 Olympic Trials marathon, I had just come back into form following a year off. After just missing the team, I realized I needed to get fit for one more shot at making the team on the track. I was coming off an extended period of rest prior to that marathon segment, which allowed me to be able to walk away from the marathon fairly unscathed, therefore making my recovery period completely different than some marathons. I didn’t have time for an extended rest period, so I opted for an active recovery period. I went home and jumped right back into easy jogging. In contrast, after this years Chicago marathon, I felt I needed a larger break completely void of all running and exercise. The race was hard and fast from the start, therefore taking much more out of me. 2:07:47 is a lot faster than I ran at the trials so the beating on my body was more significant. I also had a full years grind leading up to this race, so I felt I needed a complete mental and physical break. After two complete weeks off I was fully rejuvenated, and felt I was ready to jump back in the swing of things, but I am still taking things slow, helping me get back into training 100%.
Recovery does not always need to be two weeks off of running or exercise to allow for your body to return to normal. Recovery can be active or sedentary. After my first marathon in NYC, I was shocked to see elite athletes going out for a jog the morning after the marathon. At the time I thought they were crazy. But the more marathons I have run I’ve learned that a post marathon easy morning run can actually speed the recovery process, especially if you are planning to race soon. By getting your blood pumping quickly, it actually aids in flushing a lot of the heaviness that the marathon can leave in the legs. However, if your body has walked a fine line getting to race day, a long recovery period is probably best for both mental and physical recovery. It needs to be based on how hard you ran and trained, the length of your training block, and most importantly, how you feel. Whether it one day or two weeks completely changes from race to race.
Most importantly enjoy your break, and make sure you are ready when you get back into it!