Almost all marathon runners are in full-blown recovery mode at this time of year. There are a few big races left this fall before we all should be collectively putting our feet up as we plot and plan for spring races. Recovery is an overlooked and undervalued part of marathon training. If this season of downtime isn't taken seriously, many runners will be spending the spring season at a physical therapist's office, instead of crossing a finish line.
While recovery takes more than a week, that first week after a marathon is possibly one of the most crucial time frames for an athlete. The damage done by running a marathon is extensive and must be respected. Nearly every system of the body takes a beating during a 26.2 mile race. The skeletal, the muscular, cellular and immune systems will all be compromised after a marathon, and they must be babied in order to get back in working condition. When athletes ignore recovery, injuries and illness follow.
Generally, most runners are encouraged to take at least an entire week off. For most this means no running, but experts are all saying it should just mean, "No exercising, at all." This is hard for marathoners. However, not only does it let the deep muscular damage start to heal, it lets the mind recover too.
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