When you’re doing intense triathlon or marathon training, you quickly recognize the value of recovery. Adequate recovery allows your muscles to heal and enables you to continue training at such a high intensity. And you soon discover recovery is even more crucial after finishing your big race or competition if you want to avoid feeling too sore to move the next day.
Below, you’ll find out what to expect after running a marathon and other intense workouts, along with how to recover from a workout. In particular, you’ll learn the top recovery tips for feeling fully recovered so you can continue testing your body’s limits and challenging yourself.
- What to Expect After an Intense Workout
- Tips for Recovering From a Workout
- Recover Quickly With IV Therapy
What to Expect After an Intense Workout
By the time you complete an intense workout like running a marathon, you’ve pushed your body past its limits and exhausted your muscles. You may be out of breath, tired or even lightheaded. These are all signs from your body that it is time to replenish your energy reserves and start the recovery process.
You might not sense all the signals your body is sending you about its need for food or rest immediately after you finish running because of the adrenaline, endorphins and general excitement keeping you going. However, it is essential to listen to your body and prioritize recovery after a workout.
Though you might want nothing more than to finally sit down after completing a challenging workout, you should always finish with a cooldown. This period will give your heart rate the chance to slow down gradually until it reaches its typical resting rate. Cooling down can also prevent the blood from pooling in your lower extremities and leaving you feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
The good news is, your cooldown does not need to be lengthy or intense. Instead, it should be easy and relaxed. A thorough cooldown will give your body about a 10-minute transition period to properly adjust to slowing down, rather than jarring your system by stopping abruptly.
Once you’ve completed your cooldown, the fatigue and tiredness might finally set in. At this point, it is crucial to care for your damaged muscles and help them rebuild by taking the correct recovery steps. An intense workout like running a marathon breaks down your muscles and depletes your body of its energy stores, both of which require work to build back up.
Check out the next section to discover the steps you need to take to fully recover from an exceptionally intense workout.
5 Tips for Recovering From a Workout
If you want to avoid waking up feeling sore and miserable the morning after an intense workout, follow these five exercise recovery tips.
1. Take a Cold Shower
Taking a cold shower — or an ice bath if you’re brave — will prevent inflammation, ease muscular tension and encourage healing after an intense workout. As brutal as an ice bath may sound, taking one will help jump-start your muscles’ recovery by boosting your circulation and decreasing overall inflammation. By soaking in the cold water, you may even be able to cut down on how sore you feel the next day.
You don’t have to sit in an ice bath for too long. Get out of the icy water after about 10 or 15 minutes to avoid causing any damage from overdoing it. Make sure you change into warm, comfortable clothing as soon as you get out of your ice bath or cold shower. Bundling up will help you retain body heat as your circulation continues to return to its baseline.
2. Eat Workout Recovery Food
Replenish your body’s calorie supply as soon as possible after finishing your run, powerlifting session or any other form of intense exercise. Consuming lots of calories during a long race like a marathon is especially challenging. Most runners cross the finish line in a significant calorie deficit that they need to reverse quickly before their body begins to break down.
Whether getting your calories in solid or liquid form is more easily digestible for you post-race, be intentional about replenishing your carbohydrate stores as soon as possible. Along with carbs, which will replace all the fuel your body just burned, you will need to consume protein, which will help repair the muscle you broke down. A carb-and-protein snack can help restore balance to your body after racing.
Check out these carb-protein pairings to help you refuel after a grueling workout:
- Greek yogurt and fresh fruit
- An egg-sweet potato scramble
- Lean meat and whole-grain pasta
- Roasted fish and quinoa
- A fruit smoothie with protein powder
- Trail mix with a glass of chocolate milk
Along with nutrition, hydration is crucial for recovery. After a challenging workout, make sure you drink plenty of water and an electrolyte replacement, such as a sports drink or warm broth.
3. Stretch and Massage Your Muscles
Try to get some stretching in after your workout while your muscles are still warmed up and at their most pliable. Stretching will help elongate your muscles, enhance their flexibility and relieve tension. Lengthening your muscles in this way can help reduce muscle soreness, promote healthy circulation and make your muscles more relaxed — all of which are crucial for recovery.
In addition to daily stretching, regular massages can help you recover from intense workouts by further promoting the circulation and blood flow around sore muscles. Increasing blood flow can help prevent muscle adhesions that lead to tightness and soreness. Massages also boost healing and recovery by reducing inflammation around tense muscles.
4. Prioritize Rest After a Workout
Intense exercise puts your body under a lot of stress. Give your body the time it needs to repair itself by getting adequate rest after pushing your body to its max. Getting quality sleep should be your top priority because most tissue growth and repair happens when you’re asleep.
Rest doesn’t only apply to sleeping — give yourself a rest from high-impact activities like running after completing a big competition, such as a marathon. Focus more on different forms of cross-training for at least a week post-race and do just enough to get your blood flowing without overly exerting yourself. Low-resistance exercises that are great for recovery include swimming, yoga, hiking, cycling and walking.
5. Receive IV Therapy
Receiving intravenous therapy is the quickest way to rehydrate and replenish vital nutrients after a strenuous workout. IV therapy delivers essential fluids directly to your bloodstream to correct the fluid deficit post-workout. Along with IV fluids and key vitamins, an IV package designed for workout recovery will also contain ingredients specifically selected to assist your body through the recovery process.
After your intense workout, look for a recovery IV drip package with these beneficial ingredients.
- High-dose magnesium: This nutrient assists with numerous crucial bodily functions, including protein creation, energy formation, muscle function, nervous system regulation and genetic maintenance. An IV administration of magnesium often helps the body’s cells absorb more magnesium than they can with oral magnesium tablets.
- Methionine, inositol and choline: MIC combines three powerful nutrients that play crucial roles in breaking down and transporting fat and using it for energy. Specifically, methionine is an essential amino acid that can help increase lean muscle tissue. Inositol is a vitamin-like substance that helps break down fat and reduce cholesterol, while choline is a nutrient that helps muscles perform optimally.
Recover Quickly With IV Therapy From Mobile IV Medics
If you’ve recently completed an intense physical challenge or competition, get fast recovery with IV therapy from Mobile IV Medics. Our recovery IV drip packages will help your body bounce back from a workout so you can get back to your regular training or daily routine without pain.
Instead of making you drive to an office when you’re already exhausted, Mobile IV Medics sends our registered nurses right to your door so you can receive your IV therapy in the comfort of your living room.
Book your Mobile IV Medics appointment now to receive IV therapy within the hour.
About the author
Brad Wenderoth, Pharm.D.
Brad Wenderoth, Pharm.D. is a licensed pharmacist and co-owner of Mobile IV Medics. With over 16 years of healthcare experience, Brad is bringing his expertise and passion for patient care to the Mobile IV Medics patient population. Prior to Mobile IV Medics, Brad worked in varying areas including both direct patient care and hospital leadership at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, nationwide health system pharmacy consulting for Comprehensive Pharmacy Services (CPS), and professor of pharmacy at the USC School of Pharmacy. He holds a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Arizona, a pharmacy practice residency from USC, and a lean six sigma green belt from Johns Hopkins.