Now that races are coming back, I’m hearing many runners say that they “forgot” how to race. Things like pacing and recovery may be a little challenging at first as we get back into racing after so much time away. I’ve talked a bit before about how I typically recover after a long run, but when you race (even if it’s for a “training run”) it can be difficult to implement the same recovery strategies in the hours following the race. Here are some race day tips to optimize recovery.
Race Day Recovery Tips
- Keep moving after you cross the finish line
- Refuel and hydrate after your race
- Move around or do some dynamic stretching
- Don’t sit down for too long after the race
- Celebrate your race, but not too hard
- Eat a full meal
- Foam roll or massage following the race
- Get some rest after race day
- Listen to your body in the days following the race
Keep moving after you cross the finish line
It can be tempting to just stop right after you are done with your race. 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. Enjoy the race day atmosphere and cheer on other runners!
Refuel and hydrate after your race
You may not feel hungry or thirsty, but you will need to replenish by both eating and drinking to support your race day recovery. Some races give out free food and drinks, but right now many are limiting what is offered, so consider bringing your own supplies and leaving them in the car.
Move around or do some dynamic stretching
Dynamic stretching can help prevent your muscles from tightening up following your race. This may be more difficult to do in a race environment, but try to find some space maybe in a corner to stretch a little. If you drove to the race, try to make it a point to stretch before and after getting out of your car.
Don’t sit down for too long after the race
Of course it can be tempting to just sit after the race is over! If you do, try to get up regularly and move around. If you are going to be hanging out after the race make sure you keep moving to prevent your muscles from tightening up.
Celebrate your race, but not too hard
If you choose to celebrate your race with alcohol, make sure it doesn’t take the place of water. Try to drink some water first, and continue taking sips even while drinking alcohol.
You may also like: Running and Alcohol: How Does it Affect Performance?
Eat a full meal
Even if you had some snacks following your race, you will also need to eat a full meal within a couple hours of finishing. I would recommend getting what you are craving (your body seems to know what it needs). Just keep in mind that you need carbs and protein to help with your race day recovery.
Foam roll or massage following the race
Either later in the day or the following day try to spend some time with your foam roller. If your race was a goal race, consider treating yourself to a real massage!
Get some rest after race day
You probably ran harder than usual, so it’s important to rest as a part of your race day recovery. Try to get enough sleep the days following the race. Take naps if you need them! This will give your body extra time to repair and help you be prepared to jump back into your training.
Listen to your body in the days following the race
It’s probably a good idea to take at least one full rest day after a race, depending on how you feel. Try to keep your runs easy until your body feels fully recovered. It’s also important to remember that even if you’re not sore anymore, your muscles may still be recovering.
And make sure you check out how to do a reverse taper after your half-marathon!
Most importantly, enjoy the accomplishment of your race and take the time to celebrate!
How is your race day recovery different from the recovery from a long run?
What tips do you have for recovering from a race?
Now it’s time for the Runners’ Roundup! Link up your running and fitness posts below! Join myself, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs , and Laura Norris Running to post your favorite running tips, experiences, race and training recaps, workouts, gear, and coaching ideas.