Post Race Recovery Tips from Coach Heike

Whether you raced one of the Eugene Marathon races (Congrats!) or have another big goal coming up, we’ve got some tips for you from Big Timber Running Club coach Heike McNeil for optimum post race recovery. 

After you complete a long and hard race your body needs proper RECOVERY.  

IMMEDIATELY after the race try to stay hydrated. Maybe do a VERY light jog to help your body with the circulation and removal of metabolic waste products. As soon as you can, eat a lot of food, try to elevate your legs when you sit down and get some extra sleep.  

In the days following your race (assuming this race was your season goal) do NOT rush to return to normal training. Much research has shown that some inactivity, some time off from running and maybe some light cross training let you rejuvenate physically AND mentally and prepare you better for your next season. Continuing to train hard often leads to overtraining, burnout and fatigue in the long run.  

How much time you take to recover depends on how long and how hard your race was. If you ran a very hard marathon, you should consider doing VERY little or no running for 4-7 days, followed by a week of EASY running ONLY. 

If you ran a hard half-marathon, you can go back to easy running after a day or two – but I would keep your running all EASY for at least a week.  

A possible post-marathon recovery schedule might look something like this:  

Monday: REST

Tuesday: WALK 

Wednesday: light cross training 20-30 min 

Thursday: light cross training 30-40 min 

Friday: VERY EASY 3-4 mi RUN 

Saturday: REST

Sunday: EASY 5 mi RUN  

Most importantly: Listen to your body. If you are fatigued, don’t force your body to run (or exercise).

Heike McNeil is the head coach of Run Hub’s Big Timber Running Club and also offers personalized coaching and training plans through Accelerate Movement. Coaching plans include those for running only, running and strength work and multisport athletes.