group running

The DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon is right around the corner.

During the last few weeks and months, the focus has been on training, hydration, and nutrition, but one thing to not overlook is how to help your body recover from running a marathon.

Here are some marathon recovery tips from UPMC Sports Medicine orthopaedic surgeon Aaron Mares, MD, to help keep you feeling great immediately following the race and in the weeks following:

1. Continue Moving

After running for a number of hours, one of the best ways to facilitate recovery is to keep moving. Keeping your body moving for about 20 minutes after the race has finished can help muscles cool down.

2. Drink Fluids

Once the race is finished continue to drink sports drinks or fruit juices, in addition to water. These drinks will help replace electrolytes and carbohydrates lost during the race. It’s important to properly hydrate before having any celebratory drinks.

3. Eat Well

Eat a small snack of carbs or protein within an hour of completing the race. This snack will help replenish your energy and repair muscle tissue. Later in the day eat a sit-down meal with protein and carbs to help muscles rebuild and recover.

4. Sleep and Rest

Rest is essential for allowing your body to completely recover after a race. Get as much sleep or rest as possible for the remainder of the weekend.

Your recovery isn’t complete when race day is over. Continue with these tips for the next two weeks.

1. Go for a Run

If you’re able, go for a one- or two-mile run the day after the race. A slow, short run helps your muscles stretch and recover.

2. Resist Energy Bars

Post-race is the time to take a break from energy bars and gels. At meals, replace those items with fruit and vegetables.

3. Avoid Long-Distance Running

Competitive, long-distance races should be avoided for at least two weeks following the Marathon to allow for proper recovery.

It’s not uncommon to have some aches and pains after you finish a marathon. If the pains are present at the conclusion of the race, seek medical attention from one of the onsite medical staff members. In the day and week following the race, it’s important to:

  1. Apply ice
  2. Take an anti-inflammatory pain reliever
  3. Indulge in a sport massage
  4. Contact your doctor if pain persists

Learn more about the marathon recovery at the UPMC Sports Medicine website.