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How I Recover From a Race

Hi friends! I hope you had a great weekend.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the lessons learned from marathon training, which talked a lot about fueling and how I trained for the race on the front end. But, I also thought it would be appropriate to discuss the importance of recovery as well.

Without proper recovery and nutrition, our bodies can’t bounce back as quickly or we run the risk of being injured or overtrained.

This post is very timely as I am just recovering from being sick for a week. I exercised one time in the past week, and I ate alot of simple carbs and sweets – aren’t carbs what we all crave when we’re sick?

But the thought of exercise.. I just couldn’t think about putting any additional stress on my body. I’m finally on the tail end of this cold, but like many of the points below, rest, recovery and sleep is how I beat it.


How to Recover from a race

It took me a good three weeks to recover from my marathon. When we race long distances, we are pushing our muscles, bones, tendons and body to the max.

Running a marathon, or really any race, is stressful on the body.

There’s constant inflammation happening. One study has shown that it can take up to two weeks for our muscles to return to full strength.

So, with that being said, you can’t expect to turn around and race the next day or even the next weekend without allowing those muscles to return to full strength.

While most often, our muscles just need time to recover, there are also other practices I like to incorporate to speed up recovery.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling and using the stick are great for targeting certain sore areas. For example, I’m usually most sore in my hamstrings so I love rolling over them. However, last spring when I had some hip issues, these helped too.

When there is a lot of stress and inflammation in the muscle, these are great for breaking it up (kind of like a massage does). You can apply as little or as much pressure as you’d like.

How I Recover From a Race

Sleep and Rest

Did you know that sleep is so important to recovery? Sleep clears our mind, rids the brain of toxins and wastes, This Ted Talk is great at explaining it.

After a marathon or intense/long race, our immune system is weaker. This speaks even more to the importance of sleep and rest to help our bodies, muscles and immune systems recover.


Walking still allows blood to reach your muscles without putting stress or strain on the body. Gentle walking, even shortly after a race,  helps bring nutrients to our sore muscles and helps our muscles recycle wastes and byproducts.

Some people say a gentle, light jog is okay for the same reasons, but I stuck with walking for the first week or so.

How to Recover from a race

Yoga and Stretching

There’s a great deep stretch for athletes hot yoga class that I love at my local yoga studio. It helps you get into those deep poses and release toxins.

This all helps to stimulate new, oxygenated blood to those muscles. Pigeon pose has come to be my favorite.

Often times I’m so tight and I just need a good hour of deep stretches to release some of the stress.

How I Recover From a Race

If you don’t enjoy going to yoga classes or it’s not in your budget, this and this are my favorite to do at home.

Eat and Stop Worrying About Calories

The nutrition part is really part of my specialty.

Give your body what it craves! You worked hard, you depleted your glycogen (stored sugars), you broke down your muscles… if your body wants sugar and refined carbs, then have those until you don’t want them anymore.

How to Recover After a Race

Of course, it’s important to focus on nutritious foods, too. Like Vitamin C rich foods (oranges, broccoli, red pepper, dark greens) since it’s an antioxidant to help deal with the oxidants that come with running.

And blueberries, for their antioxidant properties and ability to reduce muscle damage. Also, iron rich foods, like meats, dark greens, legumes, and soy to help increase oxygen flow through your body and to your tissues.

Potassium rich foods like potatoes, bananas and squash, for their electrolyte properties. Here’s a more extensive list of recovery foods.

How to Recover After a Race

Tart Cherry Juice is also pretty potent for helping to decrease inflammation. It helps increase our body’s total antioxidant capacity, meaning room for more!

Studies have shown that those who take tart cherry juice have lower inflammatory markers in their blood.

Ice or Ice Baths

Though these aren’t my favorite, the chilling temps are great for reducing swelling and helping with inflammation.

By constricting blood vessels through cold water, it helps deliver fresh oxygen to your muscle cells. This can help with repairing muscles and tendons as well.

Epsom Salt Baths

These are probably my favorite. While ice baths are great too, I find epsom salt warm baths much more enjoyable, especially in the winter weather.

The epsom salts dissolve into magnesium and sulfate, both of which are easily absorbed through the skin.

Epsom salt baths can help regulate electrolytes and help decrease inflammation.

How to Recover After a Race

I have been using San Francisco Salt Company Epsom Sport Salts for the relaxation and to soothe my aches and pains. I woke up the day after last weekend’s speedy half marathon with really sore calves.

So, I downloaded a podcast and just soaked in epsom salts. I took a bath the next day too, and my calves felt a million times better. You just add 2 cups into your bath water.

The salts will dissolve quicker if you put them under running water.

How I Recover From a Race

Anything that has been around for hundreds of years has to be onto something, right?

Self Care

This may be reading, light yoga or walking, taking a bath, lighting a candle, journaling, talking to loved ones, going to a movie, star gazing, etc.

Anything that relaxes you is important for balancing your hormones, managing stress and keeping you happy.

While you can’t necessarily control your inflammation levels, this is how you can manage your external stressors and cortisol levels.

How do you recover from something stressful?


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  1. Ice baths seem a little much for me. However, Epsom salts have helped me a lot along with the daily yoga routine. We have also found ourselves going on long walks to get fresh air outdoors and enjoying the view’s that mother nature has to offer. Great article, thanks for sharing.

  2. Other than not doing enough yoga, and well an ice bath, I’ve been pretty regular about the rest of your recovery ways! I think sleep and rest are not given enough though. We so need it! I’ve been loving my Epson Salt bath too lately, I have this muscle soreness version think it has menthol in it too. Hope you continue to recover!

  3. Epsom salt baths are one of my favorite recovery methods. Sometimes a nice slow swim will help out too!
    I’m not crazy about massages but I think that’s because A) I have t found the right therapist and B) I don’t like strange people touching me, lol!

  4. I don’t have any special go-to tricks for recovery other than compression socks/sleeves. I have never been a bath-taker kind of person… I have had ZERO epsom salt baths (truth!). Maybe I need to give them a try? I do foam roll…but probably not as much as I should. ANd I have been real hit and miss (mostly miss) on yoga lately….

  5. Its amazing how hard your body has worked doing a marathon. Its crazy to think what our bodies can do. But then its so imperative that we let them recovery and treat them extra well when they most need the rest. I’m so glad epsom salt baths have made their way into a frequent part of my life. I used to never take baths and now I’m almost jumping in nightly to help me relax (not to mention just warm up from this cold).

  6. I’ve read that it takes the immune system sometimes an upwards of 3 months to fully recover! Crazy right?! I enjoy not having a training plan, relaxing on not just running, but other areas in my life as well. I ask for help with things, I read more books. Anything that makes me just feel refreshed.