4 post-marathon mistakes to avoid, according to running coach

From taking an ice bath to not hydrating properly, these are the things you don't want to do after your marathon

Lots of runners legs running a marathon
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Running a marathon isn’t just a testament to the human body, but the mind too, so if you’ve just completed one, congratulations, you’ve done something incredible. 

Recovery and rest are undoubtedly the most important things after a marathon, as your body needs time to recover. After all, your joints and muscles have been put through a hell of a lot.

To ensure this happens, there are definitely some things you’re going to want to avoid doing, otherwise recovery could be compromised. Fran Bungay, Head Coach for Goal Specific Coaching and the Training Today App, knows a thing or two about this. Below she shares four mistakes you want to avoid after your marathon. 

1. Not hydrating properly

woman drinking water after marathon

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There’s no doubt you’ll want to gulp down some water after your race, but Fran says it’s important to hydrate the right way. This includes drinking slowly and including sodium (if possible) in your drink to enhance water retention. 

“Otherwise, you may think you’re hydrated as your urine is clear, but actually it's literally going straight through you and is not being absorbed,” she says. “This is why it's important to drink slowly, with sodium, and you have a milk-based protein shake, or similar, this will not only help with hydration, but for muscle repair as well."

2. Neglecting your health and hygiene

Intense training creates what’s known as an ‘open window’ for infection, as your immune system is temporarily compromised. “People tend to take all precautions pre-event, to avoid coughs and colds, and completely forget to continue with these precautions after the event,” says Fran. 

“The last thing you want is to suffer from a cough or a cold post-marathon, therefore remember to take hand sanitizer, keep washing your hands, and think about social settings in that immediate post-race window.”

FYI Fran’s not saying to lock yourself away and not celebrate your achievements, but to just to be mindful; making sure you hydrate correctly and eat well after your run will help your recovery and protect the body as well. 

3. Having an ice bath 

man taking an ice bath

(Image credit: Diane Durongpisitkul / Stocksy)

While an ice bath may be good for relieving sore muscles, which is great if you need to recover ASAP for another race, Fran says it can also reduce protein synthesis. “This hinders muscle adaptation,” she says. 

“It’s therefore worth considering the benefits and limitations of an ice bath with regards to your future goals before jumping into one. Focusing on wholesome nutrition, rehydration is also key, and maybe reaching out to a sports masseur for some advice and treatment.” 

4. Not anticipating post-race ‘come down’ 

This is more something you want to be aware of rather than a 'mistake' as such, as Fran says it’s quite common for runners to suffer from 'post-event blues'. 

"You spend so long training for a specific race that, once it's finished, you may feel quite low, which can then lead to a loss of motivation to train," she says. "But the key is to build on the success of your race, and if you can plan for a future focus this will help to sustain your motivation moving forwards."

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.