Race Recovery Tips: Right After Crossing the Finish Line
Congratulations on finishing your race! No matter whether you ran a 5K or a full marathon, your recovery starts right after crossing the finish line. Make sure you don’t just sit down immediately. Instead, keep walking around for at least 15 minutes post race. After that, take some time to stretch.
The reason why you should keep moving post race is to keep the blood flowing and to avoid leg cramps or fainting. There is so much to explore after the race (meet your fellow runners, use the bathroom, take some pictures) that the 15 minutes of walking around will fly by quickly.
I have experienced that even walking around throughout the rest of the day after the race is very beneficial for recovery as well. I feel less sore the following days after the race when I’ve kept myself active and moving.
One of my main race recovery tips is proper nutrition. A race means stress on your body. The longer the race – the more stress. With that being said, it’s essential to grab water and a healthy post-workout snack that that includes carbohydrates, protein and some healthy fats about 30-60 minutes after the race. This will help to replenish your glycogen storage and provide adequate fuel for muscle repair. Aim for 10-20 grams of protein and a 3:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio.
The glycogen storage is like a tank that is responsible for stability, taste, hydration potential and satiety. I always have issues eating right after a long race, which is why I like to drink a sports drink instead. It provides a healthy mix of electrolytes, sugar and calories. Throughout the day, and the following days, keep a well-balanced healthy diet that is high in protein to help your body to recover. Hydration is key here as well. Drink as much as you can – your body needs it!
How to rest properly after a race
Besides a proper diet, another key factor for a quick and healthy recovery is rest. Your body deserves a few days of rest before you head out on the road again. The longer the distance of your race, the longer you should take time off. Jumping right into training too soon could increase your chance of injury. The general rule of thumb is to allow your body 1-3 days off for the half-marathon distance. A common concern for runners is the idea of losing endurance or fitness if they take time off – which is a total myth. A few days of rest is exactly what your body needs post race!
A great massage would be perfect as well the days after the race. Some runners also swear by their ice bath right after to decrease post-race pain and soreness. I personally love a Epsom salt (aka magnesium sulfate) bath. Do what feels good for you to allow a natural cycle of recovery to the overworked parts of your body.
Race recovery tips for your mind
Believe it or not, your mind is an important part of your race recovery as well. Leaving a long period of hard training behind you can have you feeling a bit lost. Long-distance runners might know the feeling of a light post-race depression. Why? Your body experiences a huge dip in endorphins from the time you have crossed the finish line. Especially after running a marathon, runners often find themselves missing the time they spent preparing for the race of a lifetime. These emotions are normal and will go away eventually. How can you minimize these feelings? Celebrate your victory, cherish your finish and be proud of yourself!
I hope these race recovery tips help you to recover quickly and to get back on your feet in no time. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.