As you can imagine, I was a little stiff for a few days after the Marathon, having to walk downstairs one step at a time, etc. Whenever I read articles in running magazines about what to do after a Marathon and how to "recover", I thought "I don't care about what happens after". But I've started to think of it more in terms of "adaptation" instead of "recovery": that is, your body has to rebuild itself after the damage inflicted and hopefully does so in a way that is better suited for future battles (the training effect). Thought of in those terms, you might as well try to reap as much of a reward for the hard work as possible.
The day after I decided to do a really light swim for 15 minutes, pedal easy for another 15 and walk on the treadmill with an incline for the last 15 minutes. Just enough to keep the legs moving but without any chance of inflicting further damage. On Tuesday I did 45 minutes on a spinning bike and 60 minutes on Wednesday. On Thursday I thought it might be a good idea to do some weights. When I am training normally, the pattern seems to be speed-weights-speed-long-weights. Even though you often feel stiff after weights (usually 48 hours after), it seems more of a recovery session - or should I say "adaptation session". I often feel tired going into the weights session but feel less so the next day. I like to think that the muscles are ready to rebuild themselves after a speed session and the weights remind them to build themselves strong. It's probably a load of crap but there may be some truth in there somewhere. Anyway, the weights session was good and I was able to run for an hour the next day without any problems. At the weekend I went for a 2 hour ride on the tri bike.
More than physical recovery, it has been mental recovery. I've enjoyed a week of making up my training as I go along and eating (and drinking) without worrying too much about my weight. Amazingly, the day after the Marathon I was several kilos heavier than I had been in the run up (must be all that pasta) so now, you can imagine... Anyway, I think it is good to start a new training cycle with a bit of excess weight: in the end, I'm sure it helps maintain energy levels and avoid injury. In any case, my body has to "reconfigure" itself for the triathlon. After all these months of focusing on the Marathon, the modest arm muscles I grew for the Ironman have fallen off.
Now I am just waiting for my training program to take me through to the Half Ironman in Marbella on the 15th of April.