How long does it take to recover from a marathon?

So how long does it take to recover from a marathon? This is a question that is very difficult to answer. Obviously, the answer will depend on your age, your training, genetics, the difficulty of the marathon, and many other factors.

Just yesterday, exactly one week after running the hilly Yonkers Marathon(my first) in 3:51, I managed to run 13.2 miles(21.2 km) in just over 2 hours. I rested the day after the marathon and have been running short distances all last week, not exceeding 4.8 miles until yesterday.

The soreness as well as weakness from the Yonkers Marathon was mostly gone within 3 days. I think the weakness lasted a little longer. By yesterday I felt nothing at all. I wonder if all that cherry juice is helping. This interesting article in the NY Times attempts to answer the riddle of how long it takes to recover from a marathon – How Long Does It Take to Recover From a Marathon?

Dr. Urso advises runners to spend two to three weeks after a marathon doing what she calls a reverse taper. Before a race, most athletes taper by gradually decreasing the intensity and duration of their workouts.

After a race, do it in reverse, she suggested: Gradually build up with runs that at first last no longer than 60 minutes.

“I would guarantee that most runners will be back to baseline performance within two to three weeks of the marathon if they follow a program such as that,” she said.

This sounds like good advice, especially for those new to marathon running. However, if soreness is any indication, it took me just a few days to recover. Granted, I didn’t try running long distances until yesterday, and if I had I probably would have experienced some difficulty due to the marathon. I actually feel like I could run 26.2 miles tomorrow if I really wanted to, though I really should resist the temptation to do something like this. Just because I don’t feel sore doesn’t mean I have completely recovered. Not feeling sore at rest or while running short distances doesn’t mean I won’t experience soreness or even injury at mile 15 or 20. I’m contemplating running another marathon, though not sure where or when just yet.

So it looks like the answer to the question is “weeks”, but probably no more than 2 months. It probably takes longer for older runners to fully recover. Sure there are some people who run marathons every day or every week, but these runners usually train very rigorously and they are usually not that fast.

For those of you who have run a marathon, how long did it take you to recover?

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2 responses to “How long does it take to recover from a marathon?

  1. Good post, I think it pretty much says it all. Personally I have always found that if I raced a marathon (I’ve done about 20), full recovery would take 2 to 4 weeks – depending on how close I was to racing at 100% effort. Not surprising really, the micro muscle damage takes a while to repair, and how much there is depends on how long and hard you run. So just running a marathon distance or more at less than race pace would need significantly less recovery time.

    After all, humans evolved to run every day, and often all day.
    Regarding older runners, I’m only 58, but I have a friend in his 60s who ran 700 hilly miles in 3 weeks last year, then beat me at a 10k a couple of weeks later. But then he’s a freak of nature!

    In your case, some people would say that as a vegan you might take longer to recover because you aren’t getting the protein you need, but some people would be wrong!

    • Thanks for your comments. To be honest, I feel fully recovered already(though I am most likely not fully recovered), and just got back from a 15.5 mile run. One thing I love about running and racing)while juggling) is tearing apart some of the myths about veganism, even though I am not that fast.

      Congratulations on doing 20 marathons. We could learn a lot from you over here. What was the shortest rest period between marathons for you? Take care and do come back!

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