What to Do the Day After a Marathon
Instead of asking your muscles to mitigate additional impact stress, you can get the same benefits with non-impact exercises.
More: 4 Workout Recovery Tips
The three easiest forms of non-impact cross-training for most people are pool running, swimming, and cycling. Runners should try to pick one of these exercises for the day after a marathon to help speed your recovery.
Pool running and swimming carry the additional benefit of hydrostatic recovery. Just being in the water helps aid recovery. Recent research suggests one reason ice baths are helpful for recovery is the water itself because of the increased pressure it places on your legs.
More: Swimming for Recovery
If you have the flexibility to choose between any of these types of exercise, try pool running because it's in the water and more similar to running. Swimming is the next best choice followed by cycling.
The day after a marathon is not the time to build fitness. Stick with an easy 15 to 25 minutes of cross-training where you're totally comfortable, controlled, and conversational in your workout. The goal is to simply increase your heart rate to deliver fresh blood to your sore legs.
After this recovery session, you should take about a week or two off from exercise entirely to recharge both physically and mentally. The marathon is a grueling event and it takes about a month to recover completely.
The race itself is relatively extreme. Approach your recovery with the same focus and effort you put in on race day and you'll be ready to run in no time.