The Green Runner’s Guide to Post-Marathon Recovery

Runners running. Bushwick Bites Nov 2023

Hey, you eco-conscious marathoner, you! Congrats on crossing that finish line. Now, let’s talk about how to recover from that 26.2-mile feat in the most sustainable way possible. Because let’s face it, your body is a temple and the Earth is our home, so why not treat both with the respect they deserve?

The Science of Recovery

First, let’s get nerdy for a second. When you run a marathon, your body goes through a lot—muscle fiber tears, glycogen depletion, and let’s not forget the mental exhaustion. Recovery isn’t just about feeling better; it’s about cellular repair, hormonal balance, and mental rejuvenation. And guess what? You can do all of this while being kind to Mother Earth. Here’s how:

1. Rehydrate Sustainably

The Science: After a marathon, you’re dehydrated. Your body needs fluids to kickstart the recovery process.

The Green Way: Ditch the single-use plastic water bottles. Opt for a reusable water bottle filled with electrolyte-infused water. If you’re a DIYer, blend some coconut water, a pinch of Himalayan salt, and a splash of lemon juice. Coconut water is nature’s sports drink, packed with electrolytes and easily absorbed by your body.

2. Eco-Friendly Fuel

The Science: Your body craves carbohydrates and proteins to repair muscle and replenish glycogen stores.

The Green Way: Go for plant-based proteins like lentils, chickpeas, and quinoa. They’re not only excellent for recovery but also have a lower carbon footprint compared to animal-based proteins. And hey, why not grow your herbs for that extra antioxidant punch?

3. Sustainable Stretching

The Science: Stretching helps to improve circulation and can expedite the healing process of your sore muscles.

The Green Way: Instead of using synthetic rubber yoga mats, opt for mats made from sustainable materials like cork or natural rubber. Even better, take your stretching session outdoors. Connect with nature as you work on your flexibility.

4. Mindfulness and Mental Recovery

The Science: Mental fatigue is real after a marathon. Mindfulness techniques have been shown to reduce stress and improve mental well-being.

The Green Way: Practice mindfulness in a natural setting. The sounds of nature can enhance your meditative experience. Plus, you’re not using any electricity while meditating under a tree!

5. Eco-Friendly Gear

The Science: Compression garments can improve blood flow and reduce muscle soreness.

The Green Way: Look for brands that use recycled materials or sustainable fabrics like bamboo. They’re just as effective and much kinder to the planet.

6. Sustainable Sleep

The Science: Sleep is when most of your recovery happens. Growth hormones are released, aiding in muscle repair.

The Green Way: Opt for organic cotton sheets, which are not only better for the environment but also free from harmful chemicals that can irritate your skin.

7. Green Transportation

The Science: Light activities like walking or cycling can help in active recovery by promoting blood flow.

The Green Way: Need to go somewhere? Consider walking or cycling instead of driving. It’s a win-win for you and the Earth!

8. Waste Not, Want Not

The Science: Post-race, you might be tempted to toss your worn-out running shoes, but wait!

The Green Way: Many brands have recycling programs for athletic shoes. Alternatively, you can repurpose them for gardening or donate them to non-profits that can give them a second life.

9. Plant a Recovery Tree

The Science: Okay, this isn’t directly related to your physical recovery, but planting a tree can be a rewarding experience.

The Green Way: Celebrate your marathon achievement by planting a tree. It’s a long-lasting way to offset your carbon footprint and a beautiful reminder of your accomplishment.

10. Share the Wisdom

The Science: Social support can significantly impact psychological recovery.

The Green Way: Share your sustainable recovery tips with your running community. The more people involved, the greater the impact we can make on our planet.

The Finish Line

Recovery is an essential part of any marathon journey, and doing it sustainably makes the journey even more rewarding. So go ahead, give yourself and the Earth the TLC you both deserve. After all, you’re not just a marathoner; you’re a green marathoner. And that’s a title worth running for!

Author: Scott Keatley, RD