Time to Read
- Keep Moving
- Eat well
- Recovery acceleration tools
Time to Read
You did it! You trained for weeks and weeks, were focused, disciplined, and finished your race.
So much went into it with a progressive buildup, leading to race day.
Training and nutrition were dialed in but just because the race is done doesn’t mean your work is done.
Post-race recovery is extremely important. It will help you recover from the rigours of race day and helps set you up for a shorter recovery time.
Whether it’s a 5k, marathon, or a triathlon here are 4 essentials for post-race recovery.
The finishing of a race can overwhelm and may bring on a lot of emotions. It’s the culmination of all your hard work and you may just want to drop and embrace everything. But this is not the time to stop. As soon as you cross the line, it’s important to continue moving. Make sure you don’t sit down immediately but continue to walk for 10-15 minutes at a light pace to cool down properly.
It’s important to keep moving post-race to keep blood flowing and to prevent it from pooling. This can lead to cramping and even fainting. In half-marathons, fatigue symptoms can last at least 24 hours so the cool down is key here.
Stretching will also be a part of this cool down process and you want to focus on the stretches and not rush through them. Studies are showing to hold each stretch for at least 15-30 seconds but better to be closer to 30 for optimum recovery. Here are some dynamic stretch ideas.
You’ve hydrated before and during the race but now is the time to replenish fluid lost over the course of the race.
If you want to get specific on how much to drink, it’s helpful to weigh yourself before and after a race.
This might not always be practical but if it is you want to drink 16-ounces of water for every pound lost from the race. Ideally, you want to replace these fluids lost within a few hours after your race is finished. If you are still thirsty 3-4 hours after you can continue drinking.
Remember, thirst isn’t always an indicator of dehydration so you need to be proactive with it.
There’s the question of post-race electrolytes. These might not be necessary if you’re having balanced meals after racing.
When you finish the race (and if it’s excessively hot or you’ve sweat more than usual) this can be a good time to have a sports drink. Have this within 30 minutes post-race.
After that 30-minutes, focus on plain water and remember to sip, not chug, to prevent any cramping.
If you’re having extreme cravings for salt, this may be an indication that you have depleted your sodium. In this case, drinking and eating something with salt may be needed. Alternatively, this might be that your body’s electrolytes are out of balance, so an electrolyte sports drink as mentioned before should help restore equilibrium.
We can’t understate the importance of proper post-race nutrition. This will replenish the body and help start the recovery process.
Your body has gone through an extreme stress and needs to repair and rebuild.
Having a snack that includes carbs, protein, and healthy fats within 30-60 minutes post-race will help kick-start the healing.
Proper recovery nutrition will help restore your muscle glycogen along with starting muscle recovery.
Aim for 10-20 grams of protein in this snack and a 3:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio.
Studies show that carbohydrates plus protein will restore energy, reduce fatigue, and reduce muscle soreness over a 72-hour period following a marathon.
You’ll want some quickly digestible choices such as:
Two to three hours after this post-race snack you can have a regular meal. That would include; lean protein, a clean carb like sweet potato or brown rice, and a dark leafy green salad.
A way to help post-race recovery - that’s less freezing and more beneficial than an ice bath - is by wearing infrared sportswear.
The material, when worn, helps stimulate the biological pain relief mechanisms of the body naturally. This will reduce the aches and pains of training and of your race day.
This helps your muscles recover quicker and heal faster after your race.
You’ve pushed your body to the limits and infrared garments like this can boost up your recovery time. They can also:
Just because your race is done doesn’t mean you can neglect hydration, nutrition, and recovery.
You owe it to yourself to make the post-race healing as easy and as beneficial as it can be. That means following these 4 essential things after your race.
When you incorporate proper post-race recovery into your training plan, you’ll find yourself bouncing back faster and faster each time.
Jamie is a personal trainer, nutritionist and author of the Amazon #1 ”Taking Back Your Health”.