Within the hour right after finishing the marathon, eat and drink to rehydrate and refuel your carbo stores. Keep moving and stretching to avoid blood pooling in your extremeties (legs) which reduces blood to your core/head, as it’s easiest to get dizzy or cramping if you don’t.
Wait at least an hour to do those things above before you indulge in the free post-race massages at the event, otherwise, you might cramp up on the table while getting your massage.
Same day/evening, or next day, when you’re mostly recovered but still sore, is a good time to get an ice bath for your legs or whole body if you wish. Ice is good at reducing inflammation as your leg muscles will have many microtears from the extreme workout you just finished, and will help you recover faster. As I’m a spa junkie, I like to go to spas (especially Korean spas) where there are cold pools and warm jacuzzis and alternate between those to improve circulation, then to just relax in the spa.
Within 1-2 days after the marathon is a good time to get a massage too. Deep Tissue is good if it works for you. Or relaxing Swedish is fine (medium/firm) if you can feel it working your muscles. Including stretches and mobility like in a sports/thai massage is also good keep your joints mobile.
After a marathon, it’s said that it takes up to 3 weeks to recover (1 day for each mile). It’s OK to not run for a few days as you’re recovering. However, I also found that 2 days after the marathon, I recover faster if I start doing a light jog/workout. It may feel tiring and sore at first, but it really gets the muscles moving again, but at a pace that feels OK, and I feel great afterwards.
Good luck / congratulations on your marathon! So when is your next one? Yes, it becomes very addicting! You’ll be even more prepare then 🙂
I’m not an IDEA member (yet); just visiting the site and saw this question. I am an ACE/NASM certified personal trainer, a certified massage therapist, and a frequent marathon runner myself (20 marathons in past 4 years and many more half marathons).