Now that the racing season has started and the racing schedule is full on, post-race recovery is very important to make sure the body and muscles recover fully to be ready for the next race and avoid any injuries. Whether it’s a fast 10K, half or full marathon, or ultra-marathon, our muscles will always be tight and inflamed after the race. Adjusting our post-race recovery according to our race distance is also very important.
Sweat to Cool
After running either fast or long distance, we cross the finish line covered in sweat. Now that the weather is getting a bit cooler, it can take our body from hot to cool immediately. After grabbing some water or recovery drink, the next step is to pick up your drop off bag to change your clothes and keep your body warm so that your muscles don’t get too cold and start stiffening up.
Move Around and Stretch
According to your race distance if running up to a full marathon, it is important to keep walking slowly once you cross the finish line for 5-15 mins, this will allow your body to cool down. Once you start to feel the cooldown, the next step is to do some light stretching of the essential muscles; Hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, calves, IT band and lower back.
Refuel with the Right Food
Once we cross the finish line, our body is depleted of carbohydrates, electrolytes, and our muscles need some protein for recovery. To make sure our body recovers properly, we need to refuel within 30-60 mins post-race. Listen to your body, eat and drink when your body allows you. Again, depending on the distance, we need to take some food that our body will be happy with and digest easily. The ideal ratio is 4:1 carbs/ protein intake. For long-distance races the easiest quick refueling is either a protein shake or some chocolate milk, after a while, your body will open up and start getting hungry for some solid food. Make sure that you include post-training recovery refueling into your training plan, to make sure your body does recover well after some long training sessions, and that you learn which recovery drinks and foods work best for your body.
Stretching and Foam Rolling
Later in the day, once your body has started to recover and feels a bit stronger, foam rolling and static stretching are essential post-race recovery methods. If you have access to a post-race massage, make sure you get one to reduce the recovery time.
Rest and Sleep
After your race, once you’re back home or to the hotel, have showered, had a proper meal, your body will continue to burn calories for hours, again the longer the distance the longer your body keeps burning calories. This will result in a warmer body temperature. To maximize your sleep and recovery, make sure you have some air flow in your sleep environment to help with temperature regulation and better oxygen intake.
The next day, make sure you move, walk, do yoga, or a light swim and stretch to avoid intense muscle soreness and again speed up the recovery process. Taking care of your body post-race will allow you to keep enjoying the rest of the racing season injury-free.