Congratulations—you did it! You reached your goal of 26.2 miles.
Deciding when to take that first post-marathon run, or do any workout, really depends on how your body feels—and only you know that. Some runners may be fine a few days after the race, while others may continue to feel the effects a week out. In either case, the body needs time to rest and repair. Here are a few tips to get you back to running safely.
1. The first few days after the race are for recovery. Work your way down this list to give your body some love:
Rehydrate and nourish
Get a massage
As the soreness starts to ease, try light foam rolling
2. When you do start running, reverse your pre-race taper. The first time you lace up should be later in the week; remember you’re not trying to set a record pace. Go for a light, low-mileage jog. Use the slower-than-normal pace as a way to flush out your legs.
3. Don’t rush the running. If you’re still sore, try some non-impact cardio like swimming or cycling. Walking can also help increase blood flow to the legs without the high-impact pounding of running—and in New York City that’s easy to do.
4. By the end of week one you might start feeling like your old self and be tempted to push too early. Hold off. Even if you feel better, you are still recovering. Take your time and build back up slowly.
5. Listen to your body! General soreness is expected; pain is not. The potential damage of pushing through pain outweighs any potential benefits.
Remember you’re already a hero, so take time to celebrate your accomplishment. The road will be waiting for you when you’re ready to return.
Tiffany Chag is a Performance Coach at Hospital for Special Surgery's James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center and Tisch Sports Performance Center. She is also a registered dietician/nutritionist and holds a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition from Teachers College, Columbia University. A lifelong athlete who played Division 1 soccer, Tiffany loves putting her body to the test and has completed several marathons and triathlons.