If you follow these 5 simple rules for race recovery, you’ll avoid injury, repair your tired muscles, and be ready to race again in no time.
5 Rules for Race Recovery
1. Eat, Drink and Sleep
After finishing your race, grab some healthy fuel. Generally speaking, eat what you want. Drink lots of fluids. Water, juice, recovery drinks, and protein shakes are popular. It’s best to avoid alcohol, but if you decide to celebrate by raising a glass, chase it with a full glass of water. Sleep is an important part of recovery. Allow yourself a nap and sleep well in the days following a race.
2. Don’t Stretch
Some of you will disagree with me on this point. In my experience, stretching sore or injured muscles only makes things worse. A massage (or foam roller) is a better choice. Be gentle and warm up slowly during your runs. You’ll be tight and sore in the beginning, but you’ll enjoy a nice loosening of the muscles as they start to warm up. If you feel them start to tense up again, you’ve hit your limit for the day.
3. Enjoy the Moment
Don’t make any big decisions regarding your running plans at this time. The days following a race can be anti-climatic and some runners experience a period of depression. Physical pain and general fatigue only make things worse. Be patient. You’ll soon feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair.
4. A Day of Recovery for Every Mile Run
I’m borrowing this rule from New Zealand running legend, Jack Foster. You can run some easy runs, but don’t push yourself until you are fully recovered. Listen to what your body is saying. Gradually build your mileage back up over the recovery period.
5. Stand Up and Walk
Boost recovery with good circulation. Stand up and walk around throughout the day. Keep your feet up if you’re sitting for long periods. Compression socks will help prevent blood from pooling in your lower legs. Drink plenty of water.