Race Recovery Tips to Remember
Your life has revolved around this one big race for so long that it’s difficult to even think past the finish line.
But recovery is the most important part if this is something you see as a priority for the present and the future. So if you approach your recovery with the same conviction as your workout and race preparation routine, you can make sure you’re able to come back even stronger to the next one!
We’ve put together a few tips for your post-race recovery to get you there.
- The very first rule will seem counterintuitive: Don’t stop! If you sit down straight after the race, you risk nausea, fainting, leg cramps, a sudden change in heart rate, and more. But if you continue to walk around for about 15 more minutes so as to gradually slow down, you will keep your blood flow going. Close off with some stretching or light foam-rolling to wind down and then have a much-awaited seat.
- Stay hydrated! An energy drink or chocolate milk straight after will give you a mix of electrolytes, sugar and calories. Thereafter, water water water!
- 30 min to an hour after the race, make sure you have a healthy, balanced meal or snack made up of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. This will replenish your glycogen storage and fuel your muscle repair.
- Make sure you get 6-8 hours of sleep. Dan Daly, a New York City–based strength and conditioning coach and endurance runner, says: Sleep is the number one thing you can do for your body to improve performance and enhance recovery. It helps muscles rebuild, restores energy levels, and facilitates the body’s return to homeostasis—its most stable state.
In the days to come
- Food directly aids your body’s recovery for up to 24 hours post-exercise, so start your days right with a good breakfast of protein, carbs and healthy fats. Opt for your usual coffee for its pain-killer effects instead of taking ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatories, unless you are actually injured.
- Actually rest. Yes, you read right. After all of the build-up, you might feel guilty not being out on the road or training, but what you’ve just accomplished is no simple feat, and your body will need to ease into things again afterwards. Don’t worry, your endurance and fitness levels will not decrease. Rather, you will be better prepared for your next phase of training.
- Different methods work for different people, but make sure you find your winning combination of foam-rolling, ice baths, Epsom salt baths, sports massages, yoga, meditation, light walking, etc. The key is to nurture your body and muscles to ease back into activity instead of jumping right back in.
- Healthy mind, healthy body. You might find that at this point you could feel a little low. Your body is experiencing a significant dip in the amount of endorphins it has grown accustomed to. Bear this in mind and go easy on yourself, celebrate the completion of your race, and give your attention back to other hobbies or interests that you may have neglected during your prep. Reflect on how the race went and how you wish to improve or what you’d like to change for the next one. Maybe even reward yourself with a new pair of running shoes!
After 2-3 weeks
- As you read your body’s signals, you can slowly start with some light workouts (focus on variety) and increase intensity as you go. But make sure you listen to your body and back off if you feel that you aren’t ready yet.
- And as the cycle goes, you can start looking at your new running goals and prepare (mentally, if not physically) for the next big race!
Now that you’ve got both your preparation and recovery plan under your belt – and you’ve got the ultimate apparel partner to help you along the way – go forth and conquer your big race!