If you have recently completed a marathon, congratulations! You accomplished one of the more noteworthy feats in aerobic fitness, a 26.2 mile trek that was likely physically and mentally grueling.
That said, one of the best parts of the marathon process is taking time off to recover, bask in the glory of your achievement, and begin planning your next race goal. This period may seem easy in theory, but it must be traversed carefully to ensure proper recovery and mitigate setbacks.
Here are four quick tips for better marathon recovery.
Utilizing the next morning
Running (or physical activity in general) may be the last thing on your mind the day after your marathon, but it is crucial that you work in some type of light activity to properly kick off your recovery cycle. Whether it is a light jog, a walk, or a cross training session (swimming, cycling, or pool running work fine), this segment will promote healing blood flow and loosen up your muscles. Your body will thank you for this activity later.
Taking enough time off
It may seem obvious, but be sure to take as much time off as your body needs. If the marathon was a once-in-a-lifetime goal for you, your recovery period may be a tad longer than someone who clicks off several marathons a year. In most cases, a period of 2-3 weeks is usually long enough to promote recovery without sacrificing baseline fitness. Either way, you know your body best, so be sure to listen to it.
Marathons can physically punishing in the moment, but they can also have lasting effects in the weeks after you cross the finish line — one being immune system suppression. Therefore, it is easy for recent marathon finishers to get sick after the race. This notion in mind, do your best to cradle and support your immune system during your recovery period. Get enough rest, utilize supplements, and keep the fluids rolling to ensure you are keeping yourself healthy and ready for your return to the roads.
Easing back in
When you finally get back into running, it is imperative that you ease back in; start with low mileage at an accessible pace and gradually build both back up. Be cautious during these first few days, as you may have lingering aches or pains from the race that were easily missed during your period of inactivity. Once you have found your feet — both literally and figuratively — you can start to increase the intensity and work towards new aerobic gains.
In an ideal world, every step of your run would be pain-free, and nothing would limit your distance or speed. Unfortunately, the majority of runners, professional and amateur, deal with some type of pain during their runs. Most experience only mild disturbances such as a tight hamstring or a slight twinge in the knee which goes away once the run is over and doesn’t persist into every succeeding workout. The majority of injuries aren’t severe enough to warrant taking time off from training. However, small issues can transform into much more serious problems if measures aren’t taken to relieve the pain or tightness. Nearly 80% of runners last year reported having some form of running-related injury. The good news is that these injuries are often preventable with some simple changes added to training. Here are five of the most common injuries that plague those hitting the pavement and a few ways to prevent and relieve the pain.
What: 40% of running injuries happen to the knee. Runner’s knee occurs when the cartilage underneath the knee becomes irritated. Over time the cartilage can be worn down and also cause aches and pains.
Prevention & Treatment: This type of injury doesn’t prevent you from stopping your training, but it does require you to take longer breaks in between runs. Instead of running every day, try every other day. Only run until the pain returns and no more. Weak hip muscles can also contribute to this type of injury. Strengthen the glutes and hamstrings to give some added protection to your legs and use a knee brace to give more stability to the knee.
What: Most runners are commonly affected by overuse injuries, and tendinitis is one of the most common. The Achilles tendon connects the two major calf muscles to the heel. Achilles Tendinitis occurs when this tendon becomes inflamed or tightens and is caused by repetitive stress on the tendon. Over 11% of all running injuries are related to the Achilles tendon but are easily preventable.
Prevention & Treatment: There are so many possible causes of this type of injury such as rapid mileage/intensity increase, tight calf muscles, and improper footwear. Treatment includes taking rest days, icing the affected area, and stretching the calf muscles. Strengthening the calf muscles can also go a long way in preventing this type of injury.
What: Shin splints are those aching or stabbing pains felt in the shins. The muscles and tendons surrounding the shin start to get irritated or slightly torn. This type of injury makes up over 15% of all running injuries.
Prevention & Treatment: Treatment involves ensuring your shoes fit well and training on softer surfaces. Avoiding uphill runs can also help prevent shin splints as uphill running puts more stress on the shins. Treatment includes rest days, stretching and a slow increase back to your original intensity once the muscles have healed.
What: If you’re a committed runner and aren’t as committed to stretching the chances are that you have suffered from this. Hamstrings are the muscles running up the back of the thighs and provide a lot of the power needed in long runs. When the muscles become overworked, they can tighten and prevent you from performing at peak capacity.
Prevention & Treatment: Stretching and strengthening the muscles are the best ways to prevent and treat muscle tightness. Incorporating a warm-up into your run will help loosen the muscle before it needs to work under stress and to also make the time to stretch the muscle after running prevents it from tightening up too much.
What: The plantar fascia muscles extend from the heel and along the bottom of the foot to the toes. Plantar Fasciitis occurs when these muscles become inflamed or have small tears. The pain is usually felt along the arch of the foot and can also be caused by tight calf muscles. Runner’s with very high or low arches are also more susceptible and standing for long periods of time without proper footwear, and increasing mileage can exacerbate the problem.
Prevention & Treatment: Running with this condition can prolong the healing period therefore by incorporating rest into your regimen you are less likely to suffer from this type of injury. Use hard cylinder or ball-shaped objects such as a lacrosse ball or frozen water bottle to firmly roll the area just as you would with a foam roller on your legs to loosen the muscles. Stretching the calf and hamstrings can also relieve pain and prevent further damage.
It is 2018 and bucket-lists are far from an ending fad. While traveling and dining destinations are sure to make the cut, there is a surprising bucket-list contender that is more common than one might think: marathon running. Completing 26.2 miles is an ultimate physical goal that many people work to accomplish. The sheer physicality of the race can be a significant challenge– although with discipline, diet, and exercise, the success of running a marathon can be addictive.
Your first marathon will be very different from other races and physical challenges and therefore requires specific training. Stay consistent, pay attention to your body, and take it one day at a time. Get mentally prepared, sign up, and take the leap.
Where to begin
The first place to start: understanding. You need to know your body and understand that you don’t just wake up as a marathon runner. It takes time, practice, and sweat. Depending on your age and shape, you may want to consult a physician before entering marathon training. Once you are cleared to go, start small. It is recommended to become a consistent runner for a year before entering a marathon. However, it’s your life, so do you. But remember to be healthy and safe. Build up endurance and mileage over time, and enter in shorter races to get prepared physically and mentally. Some great races to start with include 5ks, 10ks, and half-marathons.
Elements of Marathon Training:
- Base Mileage – Base mileage is simply how many miles you can run at the beginning of your training. This is the amount of mileage that your body is comfortable running. The point of knowing your base mileage is so that you can aim to increase your weekly mileage over the course of a span of time. Run three-to-five times a week and avoid increasing weekly mileage by more than 10% from week to week.
- Long Run – Starting with shorter distances (10-15 miles) and working your way up (20 miles), doing a long run every 7-10 days extending the mileage every other week, allowing your body to gradually adjust to long distances and build endurance. Preferably, first-time marathon runners should run 20 to 21 miles 2-3 times before the day of the race.
- Speed work – This element is all about increasing cardio capacity by practicing intervals and tempo runs. Intervals are running repetition sets ran at a substantially high pace with recovery jogs in between. Whereas Tempo Runs are longer paced runs aimed at building mental and physical endurance. While this is an optional part of marathon training, speed work can increase aerobic capacity making runs easier and more enjoyable.
- Rest and Recovery – Resting and recovery, for some, can feel pointless or useless. However, the rest allows your body to heal for maximum performance. If you just can’t sit still during these days, utilize cross training. Whether its a hike, swimming, yoga or lifting weights, find yourself a workout that isn’t high-impact or extremely actively.
About Allen Curreri
Dr. Allen Curreri is a pharmaceutical professional, a researcher in clinical decision making, and a consultant. But first and foremost, Allen is a community member.
Allen Curreri is proud to call Atlanta, Georgia home for the past two decades. He cares deeply about his hometown, and after seeing how much his city gave to him as a young man, Allen is dedicated to giving back tenfold to the community he loves.
Allen considers it a personal responsibility and a privilege to serve his community in every way he can. Plus, Allen knows how to have fun getting his hands dirty for a good cause! As a family man himself, he is particularly drawn to the work of United Way, where he has been a loyal volunteer for over fifteen years, and counting. With United Way, Allen focuses on creating self-sustaining progress and strong communities. The mission? Filling the most vital gaps and providing for the most fundamental unmet needs: health, income, and education.
A long-time running and marathon enthusiast, you can often find Allen on the paths and tracks around Atlanta training for his next challenge. Nothing is more satisfying than taking care of yourself while working for others, and Allen Curreri is a great believer in getting out on the streets and running for a good cause in fundraisers and charity marathons.
Allen’s Current Project
All across America, thousands of students are denied the federal student aid they need to fund their dreams of a college education. Why? A one-time mistake. Few people know that teens with one-time drug offenses on their record are made ineligible for student loans or work study, even if they never re-offend again.
The kids affected the most are often underserved, underprivileged, and lacking support systems — kids who already fought every odd to get a quality education. Kids who’s dreams are crushed without the federal support they need to tackle tuition.
These kids aren’t looking for a handout, just an education. Allen Curreri’s mission is to give them a fighting chance to reach their goals. He is currently working to build an organization that will offer scholarships to youth with one-time drug offenses. Those who pass the rigorous essay and interview process will live out their dreams of attending college, right there at home in Atlanta, GA, where they’ll enrich the local community and economy.
Allen is currently seeking support and partnerships of all kinds to turn his vision — and the vision of hundreds of students — into reality.
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Allen Curreri studied pre-pharmaceutical work as an undergraduate and soon tailored his focus to the business side of the medical industry. In 2003 he entered the College of Business Administration at Georgia Southern University. As he worked toward his Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) Allen balanced his studies with an entry position in medical sales. One year later, he joined GE Healthcare as an ultrasound equipment sales professional.
For the next eight years Allen worked with GE Healthcare, spending much of his time inside hospitals and ERs and cultivating the wealth of medical industry experience that guides his work to this day. When he left GE Healthcare in 2012 he sought out a role in pharmaceutical sales. He accepted a position as Director of National Sales at Prestige Medical Solutions Limited, and would eventually work his way up to Chief Operations Officer of Prestige.
Allen’s experience in pharmaceutical sales has allowed him to travel around the world and to network within diverse pools of professionals at industry conferences. A resident of Atlanta, Georgia, Allen has traveled everywhere from parts of the U.S. and Canada to England, France, South Korea, Singapore and Abu Dhabi. He attends conferences to track the expansion of different institutions or pharmaceutical companies; over the years he has observed some of the largest and most influential conferences attended by pharmacists, technicians, and Congressional health care policy writers.