Q: How much rest or recovery should I get after a Marathon? Does 'rest' mean doing nothing or doing something like bicycling, swimming?
Johnny answers: I'm sure there would be ten different answers if one would ask ten different people. Here is mine after having run a few of those myself and having tried several methods before I found the one that works best for me. I would not advise for a total rest, unless you have injured yourself during the run and need complete rest for awhile by doing nothing. The best suggestion I have, and this is because we live here in Hawaii, as soon as you cross the finish line and come out of the chute, make a left turn and head for the water. 10-15 minutes in the water, with a few movements, and you'll thank me for it later. You'll feel refreshed and ready to go on.
As far as activity goes, it all depends on what you had been doing prior to the marathon. For a beginner I'd suggest short walks for the next few days until the strength returns and one could start with light jogging again.
For a more experienced runner, I don't see anything wrong with light jogging for the next few days until your strength returns and full training for your next race begin. What you don't want to do is sit around and do nothing. Swimming and biking are excellent physical activities to do after a marathon. They'll get you off your feet for a while.
But if you get really ambitious you can do what I used to practice after finishing a marathon. I always had my rest in the water (learned that from Jeff Galloway when he was here and won the race) and the next day I went out for a ten mile run. Why? To find out if I really had been in condition to run that marathon. Crazy, huh? Well, here you have it. Good luck on your recovery!