Event recovery

Emily's top tips for marathon (training) recovery

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Emily's top tips for marathon (training) recovery

Manchester, London and other marathons are coming up soon and we hope your training is going well. Recovery is as important as getting those miles in, so make sure you're well prepared for your marathon or marathon training recovery.

Our sports massage therapist and partaker of extreme challenges, Emily Chong, writes: A few days ago I ran up a skyscraper 10 times for charity. Specifically, I climbed 420 floors in 1hr 29min taking the fastest female title and 4th overall. Naturally, I was bracing myself for DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) from hell. 24 hours later, my legs felt good, 48 hours later, nothing hurts!

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After years of experimenting with recovery routine, I’ve finally found the combination that works for me. After leaving the tower, I stood at a high table and stretched my glutes, quads and hamstrings while waiting for my anchovy, spinach and mushroom pizza, washed down with a litre or so of water and a glass of orange juice. I stood in the Tube on the way home using the over head bars to stretch my lats. Once I got home I had a cool rinse followed by a warm shower and a 45min nap. That evening, I went to swim club: the main set was suitably a mixture of technique and a small amount of 70%-90% short sprints.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like most people’s recovery (other competitors seemed to have spent the next 4 hours sitting in the pub!) but if you prefer your legs to be intact the day following your marathon, here is my magical (aka sensible) recovery regime. With running and triathlon seasons starting you may find it useful.

  1. Don’t sit down, or you’re just shortening already shortening muscles. Straight after a race (or training), keep walking, eat while you’re standing and while you’re standing, do some gentle static stretches.

  2. Cool dip - where it’s available, such as the Brighton marathon or a lake side triathlon, walk thigh high into the water, walk around or stay there for 2 - 5 minutes. The cool water temporarily constricts the blood vessels. As you come out of the water, they’ll dilate and encourage blood flow, carrying oxygen and other recovery material to your muscles.

  3. Rehydrate - Most people are under-hydrated in a race. As you heat up, electrolytes (various salts) come out with your sweat. It is very important to replenish both and not just the water. You can buy water soluble electrolyte tablets, or ones that come in a capsule form. For a natural alternative, bananas and pomegranates are full of electrolytes.

  4. Refuel - catch that 30 minute post-race window of opportunity to get some easily digestible carbs and protein into your system to kick start recovery. Many national teams swear by chocolate milk but for a dairy free alternative, try nut butter toasts or an avocado honey smoothie.

  5. Active recovery - getting blood circulated through your muscles is key to recovery. While a brisk walk and an easy swim is fine, what works better is some short, low impact maximal effort such as 5-10 repeats of 10 seconds max efforts kick in the water. Alternatively, spin with medium to low effort on a bike for 30 minutes or so, interspersed with 3-5 repeats of 10 seconds high power and high cadence.

  6. Sports massage - again this encourages blood flow with the bonus of some assisted stretching thrown in - definitely good for recovery. A post-event massage is meant to be gentle, so don’t expect or ask for a deep tissue massage as it could cause damage to already tired muscles.


If you’d like to book an appointment for a post London Marathon or post any other marathon or event recovery massage with Emily, call us on 02030 12 12 22. Have a great race!


Amazing views!

Amazing views!

Words by Emily Chong. Images courtesy of Emily and Shelter.