I’ve talked a bit before about how I typically recover after a log run, but when you race (even if its for a “training run”) it can be difficult to implement the same recovery strategies in the hours following the race. I thought I would share a little bit about my immediate recovery from Saturday’s race, as well as what I could have/should have done differently to optimize recovery.
1. Keep moving after you cross the finish line
It can be tempting to just stop right after you are done with your run. I have done this in the past and I always regret it! Now I try to walk around a bit for about 5-10 minutes after the race is over.
2. Take advantage of the free water, snacks, etc
You may not feel hungry or thirsty, but you will need to replenish and the free stuff is the easiest way to start doing that. Definitely grab a bottle or two of water and make sure you drink it all.
3. Eat something with carbs and protein
Hopefully you will find something free that you like, but sometimes I pack a protein bar just in case. On Saturday I ate an AMRAP bar right after I finished the run even though I wasn’t hungry. (I won a free box from This Mama Runs For Cupcakes!)
4. Stretch a little, or do some dynamic stretching
I did not do this, but I know I am much less sore when I do. Usually I do the myrtle routine after a long run, but it just wasn’t happening after the race. I was a little sore on Sunday and I think this was one of the biggest reasons why.
5. Don’t sit down for too long
We had brought a towel to hang out on after the race so that we didn’t have to sit on the ground, but I realized sitting was a bad idea anyway. Each time I sat it was so hard to get up. For the rest of the day I tried to stand up periodically so my muscles didn’t tighten up too much.
6. Take it easy on the booze
It’s fine to have a few drinks after the race if that is what you want to do, but make sure it doesn’t take the place of water. I drank two bottles of water, and then got my two free beers. I noticed that when I was drinking the beer I was drinking way less water. We went to lunch after and I ordered a beer, and made sure to drink a full glass of water with my meal as well.
7. Make sure you eat a full meal within a few hours of finishing
Like I said, we finally made it to lunch a few hours after the race ended. I would recommend getting what you are craving (your body seems to know what it needs). I usually crave a burger after a race so I got a small side salad to start, and a burger with sweet potato fries.
8. Later that day do some foam rolling
When I finally got home the last thing I wanted to do was foam roll, but I knew it was important. I foam rolled for a few minutes a few times that day, as well as the following day.
9. Get a good night sleep
Even if your race wasn’t your goal race, you still probably ran it harder than a usual run. Try to get enough sleep the days before and after the race. This will give your body extra time to repair and help you be prepared to jump back into your training.
10. Listen to your body in the days following the race
I always take at least one rest day after a race. I also plan for some easier runs until my body feels recovered. It’s also important to remember that even if you’re not sore anymore, your muscles may still be recovering.
Most importantly, enjoy the accomplishment of your race and take the time to celebrate!
Here are a few other posts I have done about recovery:
How is your post-race recovery different from the recovery from a long run?
What tips do you have for recovering from a race?