How To Recover From A Marathon

If you’ve just finished running a marathon, or if you are preparing for one, you may be wondering about the toll running such a long distance takes on your body.

How To Recover From A Marathon

It’s no secret that running a marathon is a serious endurance test, and your body will need time to rest and recover afterward. 

But what should you do to promote recovery after running a marathon? This article will teach you everything you need to know about marathon recovery.

Marathons are tough on your body. There is no way to sugarcoat this fact. Your muscles, hormones, tendons, and cells are pushed to the max during marathons.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a Boston Qualifier or it’s your first Marathon. 

26.2 miles is a marathon and your body has undergone incredible physical duress. Let alone the stress

you have placed on your body running according to your marathon training schedule. So let’s take a closer look at the effect it has on your body!

How Do Marathons Affect The Body?

Here is a list of the physiologically measured systems that are most affected by a marathon and how long it takes them to fully recover.


Soreness and fatigue are the two most obvious cases of damage caused by running a marathon. 

A scientific study found that both intense training and the actual marathon itself induced inflammation and muscle fiber necrosis that significantly impeded muscle power and durability for several weeks after the race.

Therefore, it is thought to take a couple of weeks for your muscles to go back to their full strength. 


Cellular damage post marathon includes oxidative damage, increased production CK – a marker that indicates muscle and heart tissue damage, and increased myoglobin level in the bloodstream. 

A study concluded that CK damage persists more than seven days post-marathon while another confirms the presence of myoglobin bloodstream post-marathon for three to four days post-race. 

Both these studies indicate that the body needs at least seven to ten days of rest post-marathon. Training too soon after a race can lead to overuse injuries.

Immune System

Post-marathon, your immune system is severely compromised. This makes you more susceptible to colds and the flu, which could lead to overtraining syndrome. 

You should also eat healthy and nutritious meals after a long run to prevent yourself from getting sick. Marathon runners should take care of themselves after a marathon. 

They need to get enough sleep and eat right during this time. They should also avoid strenuous exercise or other activities that could cause them harm.

How To Recover From A Marathon

The best way to recover from a marathon is to give your body some time off. If you feel like you need more recovery time, then you should consider taking some time off exercise until you feel better. 

However, if you’re feeling ok, gentle walks, swimming, and cycling can help increase circulation and reduce soreness. Here are some general tips to help you recover faster:

Eat well

It’s important to replenish the nutrients lost during the race. Make sure you consume plenty of carbohydrates and protein before, during, and after the race.

Sleep well

Sleep is essential for recovering from a marathon. Try to get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.

It’s worth creating an evening and nighttime routine that helps you unwind before bed to sleep deeper and better. 


Drink lots of water throughout the day. Try and keep a bottle of water with you to help you remember to drink. It sounds like such a simple tip, but you will thank us for this one!


Stretching helps improve flexibility and reduce soreness. There are plenty of stretching classes or tutorials online that you can make use of if you are unsure how to stretch correctly. 


If you want to continue exercising, make sure it’s not too much. Exercise causes additional strain on the body, so don’t push yourself too far.

How To Recover From A Marathon

Take Frequent Breaks

Don’t try to do everything all at once. Take it one step at a time and remember to be kind to yourself at all times. You know your body better than anyone else, so rest when you need to. 

Get Plenty Of Rest

Resting is extremely important when recovering from a marathon. It will allow your body to heal properly.

Immediately After The Marathon

Marathon runners need to eat bananas or other high-energy foods after the race. They should change into dry clothes after the race and rehydrate quickly.

They must stretch their muscles slowly and use warming creams or painkillers for any muscle cramps.

After the race, you should alternate between cold water and hot water in the shower. tired constricts blood vessels, causing them to shrink.

Hot water dilates blood vessels, making them expand. Alternating between these two types of showers helps increase circulation.

After the marathon, your legs will be full of muscles that are damaged and have lots of micro-tears. You could consider icing your legs to ease any soreness.

Following your contrast shower, have a protein-rich meal. Get a good night’s rest. The next day, keep any exercise to a gentle walk or bike ride.

This can help promote blood flow, but don’t overdo it. You need to give your body time to recover before training again. 

After a long race, your body needs to rest. Your immune system is low because of the stress on your body. Eat carbs to replenish your energy levels.

Fluid replacement is also very important. Drink slowly and steadily during the recovery period. 

The Days After The Marathon

After the marathon, you should try to swim or cycle to help you recover. Massage and stretching are recommended as well.

You may need to take some time off from running, listen to your body. Marathon runners shouldn’t start training for another race until after about a month of rest.

This is because muscles need time to repair themselves before they can handle more than a few miles. Your body needs more than a few days to recover from a marathon.

You must listen to your body when it says you’re ready to run again. Make sure you are doing things right before you try to run again.

Using compression sleeves during recovery can help speed up healing. They can increase circulation, which speeds up the healing process.

Compression socks can also help with recovery by reducing swelling in your legs.

You can use ice packs to reduce inflammation and swelling. Ice baths can also help relieve muscle aches.

When you first return to running, you might feel tired or exhausted. Don’t worry; this is normal. Your body has been through a lot. Take it steady and only do what you feel able to do. 

Don’t push yourself too hard until you have made a full recovery. Also, try to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities for several weeks – your body will be vulnerable to injury during marathon recovery.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article has given you enough information to help you prepare for your marathon recovery period. Remember to drink plenty of fluids after the race. Try not to skip meals. 

Eat healthy food such as fruit, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. Make sure you get enough sleep and rest and don’t over-exercise.

It’s important to give your body time to recover well after accomplishing the incredible feat of running a marathon!

Megan Rinzel
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