A Nutritionist's Tips For Recovering From A Marathon

It is common to spend months planning and training for the actual marathon, however a lot of people tend to neglect the importance of recovery. But after you’ve completed the amazing effort of a marathon - it's time to give yourself a little TLC! After you cross the finish line, what you do (and what you don't do!) can determine how quickly you will recover. 

It is vital to plan ahead to ensure that suitable post-competition foods and fluids are immediately available to optimise post-competition recovery. There are three key areas to focus on post-marathon including: refuelling glycogen stores, restoring hydration and electrolytes, and supporting recovery with nutrients. 

Glucose is the main form of energy for our cells during prolonged exercise, and is stored in our muscles and liver as glycogen. We provide our body with glucose through eating carbohydrates, which is why it is so important to refuel with carbohydrates post marathon. Within one hour of finishing the marathon, you want to refuel your body’s carbohydrate stores with a carbohydrate rich drink or snack. Sports nutrition products can provide convenience and meet many of these initial carbohydrate and protein needs until a normal meal can be consumed. When it’s meal time, choose complex carbohydrates over filling up on junk foods, as tempting as that may be. Good choices include oats, brown rice, quinoa, wholemeal or rye bread, wholemeal pasta, vegetables (especially starchy veg like sweet potatoes and beetroots) and fresh and dried fruit. 

Protein is also important post marathon to repair and rebuild your muscles. Easy options to have on hand include a protein shake (check out my go-to smoothie recipe here!), cooked chicken breast, a yoghurt tub, a handful of nuts, or a protein bar. Protein should also be consumed within one hour after crossing the finishing line. 

Along with plenty of water, to rebalance fluids, focus on electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. Our BCAAs are a quick & easy way to rebalance your fluids. With added hydration benefits from coconut water and mineral salts, you'll stay ultra-hydrated throughout intense exercise and training. To find out more about the benefits of incorporating BCAAs into your routine, check out my blog here.

You can also get plenty of electrolytes through whole foods such as milk, yoghurt and fruit (especially banana, watermelon & oranges). These foods will also provide your body with vitamins and antioxidants needed to repair muscle damage. To assess your hydration levels, you can monitor the colour of your urine - if you are hydrated, it should be clear or a light yellow. 

Some other recovery ideas to explore 3-4 days later include: 

  • Remedial/sports massage
  • Acupuncture 
  • Magnesium float tanks
  • Visiting a spa/bathhouse
  • Warm baths 
  • Gentle swimming

Are you running in the GC half marathon this July? We want to sponsor you! We would love to gift you a limited edition NH singlet to wear on race day and some NH products to fuel your body. All you have to do is fill out our sponsorship form and we'll send your goodies out to you before race day. Can't wait to see you on the finish line!