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What to Do For Marathon Recovery (Coaches Corner)

Ok, so you rocked your race, what do you do for marathon recovery? Find out today on Running Coaches Corner!

Marathon Month Continues! To get everyone caught up, check out:

Last week, I started to talk about what to do after your marathon, but I wanted to also talk about some of the other aspects of post marathon recovery.

Start here, which my guest post for Nicole on what to do after your run you goal race! That will help you figure out in a general sense what to do with yourself after your race.

Now, let’s talk specifics!

Ever wondered how to handle post marathon recovery? When should you go back to working out after marathon? Find out at

Marathon Recovery

To preface everything that I am about to say, I like to think of the time after a big race as an inverse taper. Let me explain!

Nutrition will continue to be incredibly important in the days after the marathon. I always recommend that runners continue to eat as if they are still training–feel free to think of it as another kind of taper! Mirror how you ate in the week leading up to the race by adding back in fiber, maintaining calories, and hydrating. No, you are not going to be doing a ton of running, so you don’t need to go nuts, but you do need to promote muscle repair and recovery by eating balanced meals with protein, carbs, and healthy fats spread throughout the day. 

Check out this delicious veggie omelet from Cafe Vienna in Lincoln Park! A healthy brunch staple. @Suzlyfe

Continue to foam roll and practice optimal muscle recovery techniques. Focus on allll the muscles–big guys, little guys. Maybe go and get a massage. But tell them that you ran a marathon! Ask them to focus on your back, glutes, and upper legs especially!

With regards to working out after marathon, you are going to be feeling like you are in a weird kind of limbo: you are a) exhausted and totally ok with not running, b) totally feeling fine and normal and let’s go run!, c) exhausted and totally ok with not working out, d) feeling fine and ready to workout and used to working out, e) burnt out and never want to move again. Sometimes, you might feel #allthethings above. That is not unusual! 

Marathoners are crazy! We are ready to sign up for the next race! Find out how to handle post marathon recovery at

First of all, take a break from really running. That doesn’t mean that you have to not run completely, but I recommend a 5K at the most and at shakeout pace. If this isn’t your first marathon or you took it very very easy, you might be able to run a little within the first week, but regardless, honor your body and give it a figurative savasana!

Returning to my yoga mat at CorePower Yoga! I love the CorePower C1 flow!

Speaking of, this is a great time for gentle and restorative yoga. I am a big fan of CorePower Yoga’s C1 class because it has a great combination of dynamic and isometric muscle contraction that is in a warm but not overly heated room (perfect for stretching out). 

If you are just itching to get out and move around, I recommend low impact, steady state cross training. Think Easy run effort. Hold off on the HIIT workouts like spin classes or going to town on the stepmill. Your pelvis did a heckuva lot of work marathon day, so let it recover as well. It isn’t just your muscles that need to recover! Though we will never know, perhaps if I had given myself more of a recovery for my bones after last year’s Chicago Marathon, maybe my injury would have been less severe. Better safe than sorry, right?

With regards to strength training after marathon, focus on the muscles that didn’t take such a beating during the race, but don’t be afraid to engage some of your main running muscles. However, you might want to bring the weight down and focus more on the dynamic stretch and stability aspect of your workout. Talk to a personal trainer with marathon experience (such as myself) for help! 

But remember, it is OK TO TAKE A BREAK from concentrated physical activity. What you DON’T want to do, however, is stop moving. Continue to do for daily walks, stay loose, and then ease back into working out (aka concentrated and focused physical activity).

Unicorn Running Team forever! The best way to recover!

Start to sort through the clothes and equipment that you know need to be replaced. Refer to my summer marathon training prep post from May and repeat–out with the worn out! You might want to wait a few weeks before really testing out a new set of running shoes, but you should have a back up pair in your rotation that have more stability and cushion (for more information on this, see my post on rotating running shoes).

What is an inverse taper, + why does Coach Suz recommend it after a #marathon? #runchat #fitfluential Click To Tweet

Lastly? GIVE YOURSELF A FREAKING PAT ON THE BACK. But don’t throw it all away. Proper recovery is just as much an art as a proper taper! The marathon is a momentous occasion, but it isn’t the final finish line!

For those that have run marathons, how do you handle marathon recovery? 

If you haven’t run a marathon before, how do you handle recovery after a big event?

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I am linking up with myself, Rachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday, and Ilka and Angela for Food and Fitness Sunday.

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  • Reply Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious

    I like that you emphasizes it being ok to take a break. This was always something very hard for me to do. I’ve finally moved beyond that thankfully, otherwise I would be going crazy right now.
    Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious recently posted…Pumpkin Pie Protein Cookie Dough Bites {GF, Low Cal, Vegan}My Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 6:09 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It is hard for us ALL to accept that!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:40 pm
  • Reply Kimberly Hatting

    Exactly as you said…I treat it as a reverse taper…minimal movement, but movement none-the-less. And lots of gloating at what this lanky (very-klutzy) body just accomplished 😉
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…Irritable? (not really)My Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 6:42 am
  • Reply Lauren

    Thank you for emphasizing its ok to take a break and to celebrate that your body just ran 26.2 miles!!!
    Lauren recently posted…Are You Experiencing Running Burnout?My Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 6:45 am
  • Reply Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    What a perfect strategy. Taking a break is so important and love the emphasis on that. I’d add to give some extra tlc to your immune system, since it will be slightly lower after the race!
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt recently posted…4 Things I did to Skyrocket my Pageviews from PinterestMy Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 7:12 am
  • Reply Laura @ Mommy Run Fast

    Great tips!! I am taking the entire week off all activity, other than slow easy walks or biking. The nutrition piece is tough the first few days when my stomach usually wants nothing to do with vegetables and normal healthy food! But by today, I’m feeling back to normal with my appetite.
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted…Taper, Nutrition and Carb Loading for Steamtown marathonMy Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 7:16 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Sounds like you are recovering just right, then!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:37 pm
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner

    I see the women in my running group not taking enough real recovery and then racing again 2 or 3 weeks later. Often they end up really disappointed with their second races. Rest is so important but hard to do sometimes. Thanks for the link up today
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Home Gym Must Haves-5 Essentials For Every BodyMy Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 7:25 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I raced about 3 weeks after my 2nd marathon, but I was really careful up to that point, and it was 6 miles. That said, I also paced myself very carefully! I wouldn’t recommend much over that!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:36 pm
  • Reply Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

    I am a proponent of a break after a marathon – it does a lot of mental and physical good! Even if you feel great, your body just accomplished a lot and needs to repair.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Improving Your Running with Different Training SeasonsMy Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 7:26 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Definitely. But there are so many people who like to just jump right back in to their fitness pursuits–hopefully I can dissuade them to do too much!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:33 pm
  • Reply Ellie

    After my last race, I replaced the training with other things like seeing people or working on my blog. Granted, mostly I am more social so I haven than been blogging much 😉 I find that even if I feel good, which I do, I want to relax and remind myself that I need a break to just enjoy running for itself. Not train for anything, but enjoy my friends, slow runs and the great fall weather.
    Ellie recently posted…Watergap 50K Race Recap 2016My Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 7:28 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That sounds like perfection!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:33 pm
  • Reply Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home

    I asked Meb and Sarah Crouch what they recommend for after a marathon: both of them take 1-2 weeks off completely. If the elites do it, then we should do it.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…When Running Rubs You the Wrong WayMy Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 7:38 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That sounds about right!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:32 pm
  • Reply Annmarie

    As always, great tips! Even though I didn’t run a marathon per se this weekend (I ran 2 halves), I will still be following this advice 😉
    Annmarie recently posted…How to Run, Rock & Fuel in Brooklyn.My Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 7:40 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hey, that counts! That can be intense!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:31 pm
  • Reply jess @ run pink

    I will be recovering from marathon #6 in a little over two weeks! I think the hardest thing to remember is that YES, you do need to keep moving to get that fresh blood flow circulating to promote healing. Wise words!

    October 12, 2016 at 8:36 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      WOOOOHOOOO so close!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:31 pm
  • Reply Suzy

    You’re so cute in that pic. You’re right about the keep moving thing. My friend Kai ran a 100 mile race and then posted an elliptical workout the very next day and we were all freaking out. Turns out that he’s right–it helps to circulate the blood to the damaged tissues! I try and do a little something the day after my marathons. And yes, it’s usually running. But I go slow.
    Suzy recently posted…Take the First StallMy Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 8:50 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I wouldn’t have too much of a problem with a light run or elliptical because of the lower impact. You also manage pretty high mileage, so that is a little different.

      October 18, 2016 at 4:30 pm
  • Reply Michelle @ Fruition Fitness

    GREAT tips! Love the ‘inverse’ taper. Marathon recovery is so important…especially when the adrenaline might still be running high and friends are still training for other races!

    October 12, 2016 at 9:31 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      SO hard to keep it under wraps during those times

      October 18, 2016 at 4:29 pm
  • Reply Tricia Vaughn

    I for one embraced the taper and the recovery after my marathon. Course I only have one under my belt. I think so many jump back into it far too soon. I don’t care how great a shape you are in a freaking marathon takes a lot out of you. Thanks for these great tips and saying it is OK to take a break! Appreciate the link up, I always find great informative posts in it!
    Tricia Vaughn recently posted…Combatting Soreness After a RunMy Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 10:37 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It is definitely ok to take a break! But it can be just as hard on your body to go cold turkey

      October 18, 2016 at 4:29 pm
  • Reply Nicole @ Fitful Focus

    So this post and all these tips are awesome, but I think the best part is that Unicorn tank. I NEED one! haha
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon Race RecapMy Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 11:59 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It is legit my fave

      October 18, 2016 at 4:28 pm
  • Reply lacey@fairytalesandfitness

    Great post Suz! I needed this. I am actually feeling good now that’s it’s been a few days since my marathon and was going to do an easy shake out run. But planned to do no more than a 5k.
    lacey@fairytalesandfitness recently posted…My Chicago Marathon Recap!My Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 12:21 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      SO MANY CONGRATULATIONS! And keep it eeeaassssyyyy

      October 18, 2016 at 4:27 pm
  • Reply Dani @ Dani California Cooks

    I recently discovered rolling out muscles on these little yoga tune up balls and it. is. amazing.
    Dani @ Dani California Cooks recently posted…Fall Coleslaw with Toasted WalnutsMy Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 2:12 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      LOOOOVE rolling out with yoga or lacrosse balls!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:26 pm
  • Reply Janelle @ Run With No Regrets

    This is so helpful! Even though my marathon is a little over a month away, I’m already wondering about what happens after it’s done!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…ZOOMA Cape Cod Yoga and Run Fitness WeekendMy Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 3:25 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Start to plan a bit now–don’t make decisions during or right after a marathon!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:26 pm
  • Reply Linda @ Veganosity

    Thanks for this great advice, Suzie! I’m already scheduled to play doubles on Wednesday, but I think I’ll be okay. It’s four days after my marathon and I wasn’t really that sore after the 20 miler. Hopefully I’ll feel the same after adding on 6.2. I give you most of the credit because you planned out such an awesome training schedule for me. xoxo
    Linda @ Veganosity recently posted…18 Cozy Vegan Fall Dinner Ideas!My Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 5:31 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      So glad that it has gone so well for you. MAKES ME SO HAPPY

      October 18, 2016 at 4:25 pm
  • Reply Kerri Mcgrail

    love these tips! I decided to take 2 weeks off after my first marathon this past spring and it was definitely a good idea! I missed running, but my body needed that break, and I came back will an even greater love for running and wanting to jump back in 🙂
    Kerri Mcgrail recently posted…WIAW: Running, Fall Foods & Studying DrugsMy Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 6:58 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Just right! It really is a balance between body and mind!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:25 pm
  • Reply Rachel

    Totally okay to take a break. And recommended, too. Soak it up, baby!!
    Rachel recently posted…Marathon Nutrition: Fat Adapted RunningMy Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 8:22 pm
  • Reply Kristy from Southern In Law

    These are such great tips! I have never run a marathon but I think I’d probably fall into the post marathon category of “f) please just leave me to sleep forever” hahaha!
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recipe: Caramel Latte Protein Bites (Grain Free & Vegan)My Profile

    October 12, 2016 at 11:53 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You’d be surprised… you are so hyped that you won’t know what to do with yourself!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:22 pm
  • Reply Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    I don’t think I would ever do a marathon, but if I did then I would enjoy the post race eating. Everyone seems to have some delicious post race meals and snacks.
    Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy recently posted…Comment on Healthy Eating Guide To Restaurants by Stephanie PhillipsMy Profile

    October 13, 2016 at 3:54 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      We have a very long time to decide what that meal will be, lol

      October 18, 2016 at 4:19 pm
  • Reply Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    It can be very tempting to do absolutely nothing for a week or so after a race, but its definitely important to keep moving and focus on recovery! It can also be tempting to want to jump right back into training. Ive made that mistake before and definitely learned my lesson!
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…Fall Should Mean Marathon Training?My Profile

    October 13, 2016 at 4:19 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I definitely rest, but I don’t recommend staying completely still!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:19 pm
  • Reply Ilka

    Your tips every week for the coaches’ corner are always awesome. Sharing this one on my FB page today.
    This week I have no running log to link up due to the hurricane and my stomach bug 🙁
    Can’t wait to get back into my training and following your tips! Have a great week Susie! Love the Unicorn Shirt, btw 🙂
    Ilka recently posted…Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce – A Holiday Favorite!My Profile

    October 13, 2016 at 8:06 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you so so much, Ilka!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:18 pm
  • Reply kat

    After a soccer game, the 1st thing I always do [post shower!] is ice. I sit on my floor and stretch while I’m doing it, with ice bags around both knees and both ankles. Seeing as how my entire lower body is shot, it’s pretty much essential for my recovery now! Then I typically grab some food and foam roll!
    kat recently posted…TOL #106 – 1st PSL of the season, Flashback & Loving YOUMy Profile

    October 13, 2016 at 9:14 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I also like a good floor sitting. Currently doing so.

      October 18, 2016 at 4:16 pm
  • Reply Emily

    Knowing that it’s okay to take a break after a marathon was so essential for me, cause I had this idea in my head that if I didn’t run for a few days or ate more than usual I would lose fitness and gain weight. My silly brain… O_O Well after the last marathon, we definitely refueled a lot, and we did quite a bit of walking which was really nice. 🙂 I always like to walk a lot afterwards, because it seems to help my muscles recover. And I definitely still eat a ton.
    Emily recently posted…Apple White Chocolate Caramel Bars + A Giveaway Announcement!My Profile

    October 13, 2016 at 9:18 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Haha, well with the eating and the walking, sounds like you are doing great!

      October 18, 2016 at 4:15 pm
  • Reply Meranda@Fairytalesandfitness

    Finishing a marathon is my license to do absolutely nothing physical for at least the next I know I take it a little too far!

    October 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm
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