So, you’ve completed your big race…congrats! Your mind is on cloud nine with the ‘runners high’ as you cross the finish line, but your body may be feeling a little different. Any running race is both mentally and physically taxing. However, taking your recovery seriously – from the point you cross the line – will ensure you’re ready to bounce back into training for your next big event, sooner rather than later!
We asked dual Olympian and running program expert at Active8me, Ben St. Lawrence, to share his best 6 tips for race recovery.
1. Easy recovery walk and consider wearing compression socks
Avoid sitting down straight after your race! Continue to walk around for a cool down. This will allow your body the chance to clear by-products of muscle metabolism (namely lactic acid) which will help to reduce overall soreness. Wearing compression garments may also help with circulation and reduced soreness.
2. Re-hydrate within 30-60 minutes of your race
Dehydration, especially in humid environments, can affect both your performance during a race and your recovery afterwards. You lose water and salts when you sweat, which can be compounded when racing in humid environments. This can lead to cramping and excessive soreness. Ideally you should rehydrate within the first 30 to 60 minutes after your race, using water and electrolyte drinks.
3. Refuel within 30-60 minutes of your race
Not everyone can stomach a 3-course meal post-race, but it is important you replenish depleted glycogen stores and provide protein for muscle repair and adequate recovery. A small wholefoods meal of carbohydrate and protein is best, but if you can’t stomach eating, a chocolate milkshake might help. Studies suggest that chocolate milk has a beneficial ratio of carbohydrate to protein that will diminish factors of muscle damage.
4. Rest for recovery
It’s really important to ease back into training. Take the time to prioritise rest and sleep over the days following your race. You may have a residual ‘runners high’ motivating you to rush back into running, but you are at higher risk of injury during this time. Swimming, walking and cycling are great ways to keep your body moving as you work back into run training.
5. Have a massage for recovery
A light massage can increase blood flow, alleviate inflammation, reduce muscle tension and generally make you feel good! Having a professional massage is ideal but you can also use a foam roller or do it yourself.
6. Reward Yourself
An often-overlooked factor in recovery is celebrating the culmination of your hard work. Running a race is both mentally and physically challenging so you should remember to replenish your mental stores too. While a celebratory drink is fine, be aware that alcohol causes further dehydration and will impede your physical recovery.
There you have it…recover like an Olympian! Do you want more great tips from Olympian and run program co-ordinator at Active8me? Check out his quick tips for better breathing while running.