5 Best informative ways to Recover Post Marathon

Recover post marathon has to be taken seriously. At this point, you have completed your marathon goal – and celebrated it. Maybe you want to take a break from running now and do something else like spending more time with family, friends and enjoy some social activities or non-athletic hobbies, etc. and of course, you can do that. But these 5 Best informative ways to Recover Post Marathon is about getting you to recover from the big challenge – as you completed – probably in the best way you could do.

Post Marathon Recovery Plan

how to training for a marathon Girl in treadmill

After a short time, however, when the initial euphoria wears off, you will probably ask yourself the question, “What now?” You have completed a great goal with months of preparation and hard work. So, the determining factor in how fast you will recover is maybe not merely your body’s recovery but rather your mind’s recovery.

Maybe we are not ready to run another marathon until we have forgotten the last one. Some people get depressed and frustrated because the progress up to the marathon race has been scheduled, followed and meant a lot in many months.

We have developed habits and daily routines and suddenly we stand there and miss something? Therefore, let’s go through some ways to improve your recovery process after running the marathon race. The intention is to resume the training in the weeks after in a safe way, regain motivation again, set up new running goals.

Remember after a marathon recovery you will very likely be stronger than ever before. If you have not completed a full marathon before, then you will know what you can expect in advance.

While completing a marathon can be quite exciting and motivating, you must be very careful in the weeks following the marathon regarding the rebuilding of your body and mind to pre-marathon level. The effects on the tissues and skeletal can often be tremendous.

Tissues in the body after a marathon

After a marathon, all the body’s tissue has been max. loaded and therefore the muscles have experienced what we call micro-traumas, which mean very small tears of the muscular tissue that normally occurs because of the physical demands during a marathon race.

These tears require adequate time to heal and regenerate. If you start up again immediately with a heavy training schedule, it will slow down the recovery process of muscles and tissues and it will also be mentally tough.

Even if the micro-trauma damage is minimal, the connective tissue and bones will be in a vulnerable state immediately after the marathon. To reduce the risk of getting an injury, you have to be aware of these conditions and take a prudent approach to the full resumption of the training.

Some training resources say that runners should take a week or two off with no running at all after a marathon.

Active recovery

However, active recovery is recommended. It will be a good idea with some cross-training activities to increase blood circulation and maintain cardiovascular fitness while at the same time, allowing the body to rest, recover, and heal.

It’s very individual how to start up the training again, but the rule of thumb is, that you must listen to your body. If you experience too much muscular soreness, walking, easy cross training in the rowing machine, swimming or cycling will be ideal activities to loosen up and restarts the legs in the week after the marathon.

In the subsequent weeks, you can increase your weekly kilometers by about 20 percent. Again, listen to your body to monitor how you feel, to ensure not to do too much too soon.

5 Best informative ways to Recover Post Marathon 3 signs hanging on fences
motivational messages are always welcome

Post Marathon Recovery Time!

Most people need about 3 – 5 weeks to recover from a Marathon, and there is a difference between whether you, with many years of running experience, completed the marathon in 2 hours 55 min. or if it was your first marathon completed in 5 hours.

The schedules below are designed to provide a frame and a program for subsequent training after the marathon race. Since it is different where we are individual, it will be up to yourself, to manage the quantity of training from how you feel during the Post Marathon Schedule.

If your weekly kilometers were high or low before the race, then adapt the training accordingly. You do not have to follow the schedule exactly, but rather be prepared to adapt your training based on how your body responds and how you feel.

In table 1 below, it is therefore important to look at the goal headlines, as they should be followed. Then you can adjust the time period personally – it’s just a suggestion to get back stronger than ever before. It is a structured overview of the recovery course after the marathon.

Let’s take an overview of the 5 weeks after the marathon race first, and next go through each week specifically.

Marathon Recovery Overview

Weeks after 1 2 3 4 5
Goals Recovery/ Active rest Running again Physical Re-building Restore your base Resume LT Training
How Cross training Cross tr./ jogging Strength/ Easy run Strides/ Easy run LT /Steady Run


Active Recovery Exercises

For most of us in the period after a marathon race, it’ll be a good idea with active recovery exercises. It’s different what we need. Most of us can benefit from massage activities either from a masseur or by using a massage gun, and stretching exercises.

To show you cross-training activities for recovery, and how you can balance a post recovery period of 5 weeks, we have made a plan for each week below.

Week 1: Recovery/Active Rest

The line between just recovery with no activity at all and active recovery is narrow, but the main goal during the first week should be to relax. If you measure your resting heart rate in the morning and it is 10 % higher than usual, you should take a rest day.

However, since increased blood circulation, increases the removal of metabolic waste products out of the cells while the inflow of oxygen and nutrients the other way increases the healing of damaged tissues, it would be a good idea with light cross training in about 20 min.

5 Best informative ways to Recover Post Marathon relaxing woman in-swimming-pool
Recovery/Active Rest

The first week is the most vulnerable period concerning injuries and illness, it is therefore, important to keep your training intensity at the lower level and not load your legs too much. The best way to control that is by using a heart rate monitor.

Your sports watch or HRM belt will ensure that you work in the right zone, and if it is too early with even light training, the heart rate monitor will immediately show it with a high heart rate at your low level of training.

You should keep your heart rate at about 60 percent of your heart rate reserve. It is not a good idea with easy runs during the first week, since you then use the same loads, movements and recruit muscle groups, as during the marathon race and you risk decreasing your motivation.

Schedule Week 1:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Rest Rest or Swim / Cycle Rest Rest or Swim / Cycle Rest Swim / Cycle Rest or 20 min. rowing machine

Week 2: Easy running again

 5 Best informative ways to Recover Post Marathon woman in easy jog Training during the second week should consist of a balance of rest days, cross-training, and easy runs. You can test your recovery status in the elliptical trainer since the exercise here reminds you of running and the elliptical movements distribute the load on your legs gently.

Hereby you get a good sense of whether you are ready to run again, by how you feel in your body. Your training intensity should remain easy.

During this week, you should try jogging on grass and trails or similar soft surfaces to decrease the pressure on your muscles and joints, you do not want to force the training too much if your body is not ready.

Schedule Week 2:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Rest or Swim/Cycle Elliptical Trainer/ 20 min. Easy run Swim/Cycle 25 min. Easy run Elliptical Trainer/ Swim/Cycle 30 min. Easy run 30-40 min. Easy run

Week 3: Re-Build Your Physical Fitness

5 Best informative ways to Recover Post Marathon re build your physical fitness
Re-build your physical fitness by running again

By running a marathon, you take about 35.000 – 40.000 steps or more and therefore your muscles, tissue and bones have received a lot of “spanking”. Also, you have probably kept your upper body in the same running position and used the same muscle groups for a long time.

To rebuild their strength and integrity, you can add strength training to your routine as an alternative to your cross training. Of course, you have to keep the weights light, since you do not want to stress your physiology unnecessarily.

Schedule Week 3:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Rest or Swim / Cycle / Elliptical T 35 min. Easy run 45 min. Easy run Elliptical Trainer / Swim / Cycle 35 min. Easy run Elliptical Trainer / Swim/ Cycle 60 min. Easy run

Week 4: Restore Your Base

5 Best informative ways to Recover Post Marathon women cycling
By cycling, you don’t carry your own body weight

During the fourth week after the marathon, you can increase the volume of training moderately and two days including strides are on the program. The reason for these strides is that your marathon training, and the marathon itself, will have made you strong and persevering but also a little slow and monotone with thousands of the same repetitive movements.

Strides are a simple way to improve your speed and shape without too much effort, and probably you will at this point experience how strong and fit you are, because strides really make you feel resourceful when you have not done them in a long time.

You should run them after a thorough warm-up, with gentle stretching both before and after the run. Allow yourself plenty of rest between each repetition so that you can run each one with good technique and surplus.

As mentioned at the beginning of recovering from a marathon race, it is not only about your body’s recovery. Keep the effort easy and stop if you experience any discomfort or tendency of injury. If you are rushing too much in the recovery period, you disturb your body’s biochemical activity too.

You risk experiencing prolonged fatigue, loss of appetite, feeling lethargic and heavy on your runs for several days in a row, mood swings and any running-related injury. Encountering any of these symptoms means you may need to scale back on your post-race period. Have patience, and give yourself the time you need.

Schedule Week 4:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Rest or Elliptical T / Swim /Cycle 35 min. Easy plus 5 x 100m strides 45 min. Easy run Elliptical Trainer / Swim / Cycle 45 min. Easy run 35 min. Easy plus 6-8x100m stride 65 min. steady

Week 5: Resume LT-Training

During the fifth week post-marathon, it is time to restart and challenge your LT threshold for improvement again. These steady runs do not break down the body as much as intervals because they are not fast enough to cause significant muscle injury, nor are they long enough to totally deplete your glycogen depots.

Include a day with easy runs/strides in your training this last week. Following schedule 5 with awareness of fine-tuning yourself based on how you feel, should leave you injury-free and ready to resume serious training again.

Schedule Week 5:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Elliptical Trainer/ Swim/Cycle 45 min. with 10-15 min. LT 60 min. Easy run Elliptical Trainer/ Swim/Cycle 45 min. Steady 35 min. Easy run & 10 x 100 m strides 75 min. steady

Let’s take a concise resume of the Post Marathon: Recover initially and then gradually add quality and quantity (volume) so you stay injury-free, mentally fit, and able to capitalize on the huge physical and mental fitness you have obtained during the long marathon training period before the marathon race.

Maybe you have your own recovery plan, but I hope you can see the point of starting up again gradually after a marathon race, to carefully regain mental and physical fitness again. The reason to make a post-marathon schedule is also that you maintain to have a schedule as before the race and hereby keep your training habits alive.

The contents with more cross training activities loosen up your “marathon muscles” by using other muscle groups and it also brings variation to your mind.

 5 Best informative ways to Recover Post Marathon woman start running again
Startup running again with ”a greater engine”

Final Thoughts

When you have finished the marathon race, you may likely have a drained mental and physical state in the period immediately after. Besides, you do not have the same marathon goal to focus on anymore, which can make you disillusioned.

Therefore, during the 5 weeks recovery period planned in advance, your mental state becomes strong again, while you maintain training habits – instead of e.g. just sitting on the couch.

You should hereby have a surplus to focus on your next running step, which will depend on e.g. your motivation, years of running experience, energy/effort expended, etc. So, After following the Post-Marathon Recovery Schedule on your terms, you safely get back to start running again with ”a greater engine”.

Maybe you want to participate in shorter distances, where you now can run faster and recover faster too.

I hope you liked this review and if you have any questions about the topic or want to leave your own Personal review, please leave a comment below.

How long does it take to recover from a marathon?

Most trained runners need at least one full week of recovery after a marathon to safely recover from the race. Studies have shown that it takes about 4 weeks to fully recover from a marathon. But to avoid overtraining by starting too early it’s preferable to follow a post marathon schedule of about 5 weeks.

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4 thoughts on “5 Best informative ways to Recover Post Marathon”

  1. Thank you so much for all you have shared here and I must day that I really fancy all you have said here. Recovering from marathon can be rather stressful if not properly planned ahead of time. With this guide here, it would be taken as a gradual process rather than taking it as compulsory recovery within few days. Good one

    • Hi Nath

      Thank you for the comment. You got it, it’s about gradual building up again and as result after the recovery process, you will be stronger than before the race and can make your choices for the future from a ‘high point’ state.

      Be Well

  2. Hello Henrik, thanks to you for such a wonderful article. I have been involved in Marathon races a couple of times and it wasn’t so easy on my first trial because after the race I went home an couldn’t walk well for about two days and I felt really sad. Seeing this article I really feel there is so much I need to do to be better and I will start working on it immediately 

    • Hi Justin

      Thank you for the comment. Many of us feel the same way as you describe here in the first days after a marathon. To relax in water with easy swimming could be a good start to recover again.

      Be Well 


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