While racing is on our minds, especially for those racing this weekend or next weekend, we should also be thinking long and hard about recovery.
We so often get caught up in the race: planning for our race day, stretching, eating properly and everything in between, that we neglect to think about recovery. The minutes, hours, and days after the event are a lot less planned for and is just as important as your actual race.
So, what does your recovery look like?
Here are a few tips if you haven’t thought about what to do just yet:
1. Walk around after finishing your race.
Keep the blood flowing by walking 10-15 minutes after the race, then stretch. When you get home, do some light foam rolling and wear compression socks, which will aid in blood flow, and remove toxins from your muscles.
2. Refuel your body.
Drink a high carb juice containing a small amount of protein, such as Powerade or Super Moo. Your muscles are most susceptible to taking in energy in the 30 minutes following a tough run. If your stomach can handle food, at a balanced snack. 23-24 hours after your race is a your priority is muscle repair where you should be eating frequent snacks high in carbs but that also contain around 25 to 30 grams of protein.
Let your body initiate relax. Running around after a marathon is not conducive to effective recovery.
4. Do some light exercise.
After a good few days of rest, you can try some light exercise, such as swimming or a gentle walk. Active recovery delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
5. Go for a massage.
Sports massages are great for relieving tension, but if you do go for one in the days after your race, ask your therapist to keep the pressure light and minimal. Deep-tissue massage can cause muscle damage.
6. Avoid taking anti-inflammatories.
Your body’s inflammatory response is a sign of recovery, and you don’t want to mask that as you can do more damage to those muscles. Walk around gently and just know that you have put your body through hours of hard effort – you need to allow it to recover properly.
There are very few things that can beat running and completing a long-distance race, so celebrate your victorious run. Even if you didn’t run your goal time – you ran 42.2 kilometres! (Only in South Africa is this a small distance!! Everyone else around the world is kneeling at your feet, hailing you a superhero for completing this distance).
Recovery begins the moment you finish your race. Now you have a plan not only to race well, but to recover well and to get back on your feet for the next one!