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Marathon Recovery

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To schedule an appointment with a physician or other Sports Medicine expert, call
1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

UPMC Rooney
Sports Complex
3200 S. Water St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex
8000 Cranberry Springs Drive
Cranberry Township, PA 16066

Running 26.2 miles is no easy feat for your body. You have to take care of yourself after completing a marathon, too.

Recovery Begins at the Finish Line

Jump-start the marathon recovery process as soon as you finish the race.

  • If you feel ill or injured at the finish line, ask someone to escort you to the medical tent.
  • Examine your feet and body after the race. If you have a severe blister, do not try to treat it yourself. Experts in the medical tent are trained to properly treat blisters.
  • Continue to walk after finishing the race. Move for at least 20 minutes. This simple action greatly assists your body in the recovery process.
  • Slowly drink fluids that contain salt and carbohydrates (such as sports drinks and fruit juices), as well as water.
  • Even the most experienced marathon runner can run into post-race complications. Ask someone to meet you at the finish line and stay with you in case you need help.

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Post-Race Recovery

When you get home (or to your hotel):

  • Continue to drink water, sports drinks, and other liquids.
  • Move around periodically to remain loose.
  • Add protein to your carbs to help your muscles rebuild and recover. Eat a steak, potato, and vegetables. Or chicken and vegetables over rice.
  • Avoid bathing in hot water after the race. Stick to a lukewarm bath or cold shower.
  • Replenish before your post-race celebration. Eat a proper meal and adequately hydrate your body before picking up the beer, champagne, or margarita.
  • Sleep and nap as much as possible after the race. Rest is vital to allowing the body to repair itself.

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The Weeks After the Race

Keep in mind the following advice for the weeks following your marathon.

  • If you feel well enough, take a short, slow run — one to two miles — the day after the marathon. This helps with muscle stretching and recovery.
  • Avoid eating energy bars and gels for a week after the race. Treat yourself to sit-down meals, complete with fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Learn from your experience. Take note of what works for you so you can improve your performance in future races.
  • Avoid competitive, long-distance races for at least two weeks after the marathon.

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Managing Aches and Pains

Aches and pains are common post-race ailments. Learn how to handle them properly and when to seek professional attention.

  • Apply ice to relieve pain in joints or soft tissues.
  • If pain continues, take the recommended dosage of an anti-inflammatory pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Motrin®), naproxen (Aleve®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®) at least six hours after the race is over.
  • Schedule a sports massage for the week after the race.
  • If you continue to experience pain or stiffness for more than a week after the race, contact your doctor or a sports medicine specialist for a medical evaluation.

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