A Recovering Runner's Guide to the Chicago Marathon

People have been prepping for the Chicago Marathon now for 41 years. That adds up to thousands upon thousands of race lottery applications, time trials, carbo-loading, and final-weeks tapering. There’s no shortage of training plans, online forums, and nutritional advice to help hopeful runners cross the finish line. But what about after you cross the Grant Park finish line?


Understandably, planning for the starting line takes precedence for most runners. But getting ready for an active, productive recovery is important, too, especially if your Chicago Marathon attempt isn’t a one-off but part of a regular running regimen. It takes a little more to bounce back than to simply stop running once your final time is clocked. Here are our top tips for owning the post-race portion of this fall’s Chicago Marathon.


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1) One of the best things you can do for your aching muscles after a marathon is to hop into an ice bath. But if you’re in a crowd of 40,000+ participants and spectators, making a beeline for your apartment or hotel room might not be in the cards. Nor does an ice bath sound like the most appealing way to unwind, either. It’s one of those things where the cure sounds almost worse than the swollen, achy alternative.

What you can do right away is take off your running shoes and slip on a pair of recovery shoes like OOFOS that will immediately reduce the pressure on all your parts that just got pounded one pavement strike at at a time. That will buy you some time while you make your way to the dready chilly tub.


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2) Carbs are one of the great benefits to running. All those beautiful, flavorful mounds of long, slurpable noodles and thick loaves of bread and steaming piles of rice sure do balance out the mental and physical strain that is synonymous with long-distance running.

After a race, however, you don’t need to tuck into the linguine the way you did before your run. Instead, focus on hydrating fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals like tomatoes, melons, and lettuce. You’ll also want plenty of protein and healthy fats to help your muscles recover. Many runners also swear by upping their potassium intake with foods like bananas and squash.

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3) Hair of the dog might not be the best answer for a hangover, but it’s a great remedy for recovering runners. The last thing you might want to do after a major marathon (besides that ice bath) is go for another run. But a nice, easy jog will help stimulate blood flow and loosen up tight muscles.

If you’re tending to an injury or the idea of putting your sneakers back on is more than you can bear, cross-training is a great way to recover, too. Go for a swim or take on a yoga class— anything that gets the blood moving and gently eases your body back into activity. Just like Chicago Marathon training is a little different for every runner, so is recovery. Listen to your body!

 

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4) Spoil yourself. That’s right, you’ve earned it. There are all kinds of services catering to runners, especially after major marathons like the Chicago. If it’s in your budget and you’re feeling like doing something a little extra to help you bounce back, there are several things you can try.

Get a massage, for example, or try swinging by one of those businesses that offer IV’s to help you rehydrate. Check out an oxygen bar or a cryotherapy spa. Ask your running community what they recommend and book your appointment well ahead of time!

Ultimately, however, your body’s needs a pretty simple post-run. At the end of the day, you need to rest, eat right, and tend to your sore muscles. You don’t need fancy treatments or gimmicks for that, unless you’re turning around to tackle another big running challenge right away.

Your post-run recovery can look as simple as a pair of compression leggings, some recovery footwear, and a nice steak salad for dinner. However you choose to recover, start planning now as part of your race prep so you can see the full arch of the marathon through from your first training runs to when you finally Feel the OO.


Ryan Fliss
Ryan Fliss

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