Marathon Recovery

By: Christine Nichols

By: Christine Nichols

A common mistake that runners make is running too soon post marathon. We 100% understand... you're feeling good a few days later, you're used to running 5+ days per week, and start to get antsy to get out there again. It may be possible you also want to try and flush all of that lactic acid out of your legs from the big race, right? 

FUN FACT #1: Racing anything over 35k (18.8 miles) means that your intensity isn't high enough to product large amounts of lactic acid. Therefore, any lactic acid that was rushing through your body was in fact gone several minutes after the race (Hanson)! #mindblown

FUN FACT #2: After completing a study on 40 Marathoners, Coso & associates discovered that even after 8-10 weeks, there were still signs of muscle fiber damage.

Below show's the progression of the findings ranging from immediately after the race to 8-10 weeks post race:

  • Immediately after the race: 25% of subjects showed significant damage, and some showed light muscular damage.

  • 1 week post race: muscle fibers start healing process. Majority of glycogen has been restored, and many empty (or dead) cells are discovered.

  • 1 month post race: most damage is reversed and muscled fibers are restored with glycogen.

  • 8-10 weeks post race: small amounts of muscle damage is found in some subjects (Hanson).

In a perfect world, marathoners would have the sanity to take that much time off from running to let their bodies heal before lacing up again.  But let's be honest, marathoners and sanity don't go hand in hand! 

What we have below are recommendations to ensure your body has enough recovery time, and psychological rest that you may not realize you needed post training/race. AKA, help you fall in love with running again so you don't burn out!

  • First time marathoner, beginner marathoner, low mileage program: 2 weeks minimum off from running

  • Low mileage/advanced program (peak week = 50 miles or less): 10 days-2 weeks off

  • High mileage runner: 7-10 days off

Now the thought is, "Soooo what am I supposed to now?!" Use this time to focus on reversing the damage.  Focus on your nutrition and hydration so you're refueling your body. Take a few days off of exercising, and slowly introduce low impact exercise. This can help increase how quickly you recover by promoting blood flow.  

Every runner is different, and we understand that. Know these are general guidelines based on studies that have been done, and information that's been proven to be successful! 

If you have more questions about post marathon recovery, shoot us an e-mail at


"Post Marathon Recovery, Why So Long?" Hanson Coaching Services.  

"Muscle Damage And Fatigue In The Marathon." Juan Del Coso. Juan Jose Salinero. Javier Abian-Vicen. Cristina Gonzalez-Millan. Sergio Garde. Pablo Vega. Benito Perez-Gonzalez. NSIA

Christine Nichols