How to Rest and Recover During Marathon Training


How to Rest and Recover During Marathon Training

Training for a marathon is an exhilarating journey filled with gruelling long runs, intense speed workouts, and relentless mental focus. However, the secret weapon in every successful marathoner’s arsenal isn’t just the miles logged on the pavement—it’s the rest and recovery that allows the body to heal, adapt, and grow stronger. 

Rest days and recovery techniques are just as crucial as the workouts themselves. To shed light on the best practices for optimal recovery, we’ve enlisted expert advice from Sarah Forbes-Smith, Lead Instructor of Sports & Performance at Third Space Moorgate. With her extensive experience guiding athletes through peak performance and injury prevention, Forbes-Smith offers invaluable insights to help you master the art of rest and recovery, ensuring you’re at your best come race day. Best step to it. 


“An obvious but important one,” says Forbes-Smith. “I make adjustments where possible to get an extra 60 minutes of sleep by either going to bed an hour earlier or waking up an hour later.” She’s not wrong. According to a study in *Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, athletes who slept 90 minutes longer for three days improved their 60-minute time trial performance by three per cent. So what’s the sweet spot? Researchers recommend sleeping over eight hours a night for optimal endurance. 

Active recovery

After a long run, the last thing you’ll want to do is lace up and get outdoors (again), but you’ll have to trust the process, says Forbes-Smith. “Light movement after the hard work helps my legs feel fresher for the next day,” she explains. “On the days with intervals, I ensure I have a warm-down jog of 10 – 20 minutes. On those long run days, I often walk a few hours later to loosen up.” 


Glycogen is the primary form of stored carbohydrate in muscles and the liver, serving as a crucial energy source for runners during prolonged and intense physical activity. “Making sure you always have available glycogen when running is key,” says Forbes-Smith. “I never do hard or long runs fasted and always use fuel for any run over 80 minutes”. Afterwards, Forbes-Smith advises you to make sure to replenish the glycogen that’s been used after a hard run, aiming for a post-run snack/meal with a 3:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio.

Normatec Boots

Not just for post-leg-day DOMS, Normatec boots are advanced recovery devices that use dynamic compression to enhance blood flow and reduce muscle soreness in athletes. “I find them most beneficial when done as close to finishing a run as possible,” explains Forbes-Smith. “Particularly on those harder days, the pressure will push blood flow to the legs, which brings oxygen to damaged muscles and encourages the clearance of lactate.” 


Oftentimes, working on becoming a stronger runner isn’t just about clocking up miles day after day. It’s about what you do outside of the running itself. “Planning a 15-minute mobility sequence that suits you is great,” says Forbes-Smith. “This can be repeated before bed a few times a week and, for me, that focuses on thoracic and hip mobility”. Try to fit in an extended 30-40 minute session once a week that’s focused on deeper stretches and getting length back into key muscle groups including your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. 


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