What is the best way to recover from a marathon, and when can I start running again?

Ask the PTJill Murphy, DPT, LAT, CSCS

According to some recent research, the answer varies, but not on how experienced of a runner you are, but on how fast you ran your race. If you went all out and earned a huge PR, you will need more recovery time than if you paced yourself slowly, or ended up walking some of the race. Even if you did run the race just to finish, you will need at least 7 days of rest before returning to running, whereas if you went all out, you might need 2 weeks or more. Also pay attention to what your body is telling you. If your muscles are still sore with just getting around through the day, you definitely want to do some gentle cross training (biking, elliptical, swimming, roller blading) to aide your recovery before you return to running anyway.

If you were running the race with an injury, the rules change. You need to take some time off to address any issues you are having. If you were pushing it just to complete your race, the post-race season, even if brief, is a good time to cut back on working out and seek medical attention if need be. Ignoring the pain and continuing to run is a recipe for disaster in the shape of a stress fracture, muscle tear, or simply chronic pain when you are trying to train again for your next serious race.


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