It's over – after months of fear, excitement, and an intense training, you managed to run the London Marathon, and now it's time for a well-deserved rest.
But if you're the type to put yourself up for a 26-mile race, you may well be trying to plan your next run. This is a bad idea, though – give your body the time it needs to recover from the stress and it'll thank you for it in the long run.
So, what should you be doing just after a marathon? Here are our top tips for making a quick recovery and getting back on track.
Put your feet up (literally)
Post-marathon muscles are full of stiffness, and circulation can become poor. Putting your feet up while lying on the sofa is a great way to kill two birds with one stone – it's relaxing and it will put your legs in the best angle for recovery.
It's most important to do this on the day of the race, but it's even better if you can carry on doing it for about 10 minutes every day for a week.
Don't start running straight away
Putting your trainers on and going for a gentle jog is about the worst thing you can do the day after running more than 20 miles. Even some top athletes abstain from running for weeks after running a marathon, so why shouldn't you?
Your muscles are put under serious strain when you run that distance, so they desperately need rest to repair themselves. You should only start running again when you no longer feel fatigued, sore or generally unwell.
When you do start running again, keep it short
Once you've recovered enough, don't launch into the long-distance right away. It's best to keep runs short for a while and focus on speed rather than endurance.
Get a massage
This is one on the most enjoyable on the list. To take the tension out of your muscles and help breakdown the chemicals that built up in them during a long run, take yourself over to a massage parlour for an hour.
You should leave at least 24 hours before doing this, though, so that your muscles have enough time to replenish the fluids lost during the marathon.
Sleep more – otherwise you could get ill
The body's immune system suffers after a marathon, making you more susceptible to getting colds and flu. One way to minimise the chance of this happening is by ensuring you get more sleep than usual, so the immune system can build itself back up to the level it was at before all the intense training started.
Book a holiday
There's a lot of excitement during the lead up to such a difficult challenge, so the feeling afterwards can be an anticlimax, sometimes called the “post marathon blues”. There's nothing to focus on any more, and that's the problem – what will you do instead of training? A way around this is to arrange something for you to look forward to and concentrate on to take your mind off it, like a holiday or a party.