A marathon is an enormous achievement. Running 26.2 miles is a feat that takes proper preparation, fitness and fortitude to complete. But your recovery requires as much attention as your marathon training.
Most marathoners will take over 40,000 steps to complete their race and each one inflicts damage. A marathon damages the muscles in your legs and puts stress on your heart and nervous system. Your entire body needs to recharge, repair, and recover after running 26.2 miles.
Most runners know they need to rehydrate and refuel—or even take an ice bath—after a marathon. But will a short run the day after a marathon help your recovery?
Impact, Recovery and Muscle Damage
Most runners should not run after a marathon. If your goal is to recover, there are better methods to enhance this process.
Running is an impact sport—each step sends force through your leg that must be absorbed by your muscles.
More: The 3 Phases of Recovery
The day after a marathon is when your delayed onset muscle soreness will be near its peak. This is not the time to ask your muscles to deal with impact forces and the pounding of even more running.
Many coaches still advise a short, easy run the day after a marathon. It's true that a short run can help the recovery process. Still, there are better alternatives.
The day after a marathon your muscles are in repair mode and there are significant amounts of cellular debris left over from this process, like pieces of dead or damaged cells. Exercising the day after a marathon increases blood flow to your legs, providing oxygen-rich blood to flush your damaged muscles.