Whether you’re running half marathons, marathons or ultras, recovery is a very important part of the racing process. After months of training and putting your body through the stress of the race, it is
time to take some time to sit back, relax and let your body heal. Here are our top tips from recovering from race such as the Coastal Challenge, a 6 day 235km race, Expedition Africa, a 575km 7 day adventure race, half Ironmans, numerous 50kms and a 50 mile race.
Here are our top recovery tips:
1. Massage: If the race has post race massages, take full advantage. Most of them are by donation or free because they are RMT students. Get on that table as soon as you can post race. RMTs passively stretch you and work through some immediate muscle soreness and decrease lactic acid build up. They can also get into the areas that you might be too sore to stretch right away. Be mindful that the RMT does not go too deep as your muscle fibres have micro tears in them from your race. The massage should hurt, but a good hurt. If it’s too much, have them ease off slightly.
2. Compression socks: Get those compression socks on and your feet up as soon as you can. Compression socks help to increase blood flow and circulation to your muscles which speeds up recovery time.
3. Nutrition: You can only imagine how many calories you might burn running say 50km with 2500m of elevation gain in 7 hours. You now have this giant calorie deficit and your muscles need to be refueled! Hours after the run, your metabolism will continue to run high, burning more calories even once your finished. The good news? You get the eat ALL THE FOODS! Isn’t one of the reasons we run to eat
delicious foods in impressive quantities? Immediately after you finish running it is important to get something into you, even if you don’t feel like eating. The high of the finish line can bring upon lots of emotions, and the feeling of hunger might be dampened. We recommend packing a recovery drink for immediately after the run. Our favourite is Hammer Nutrition Recoverite. Recovery drinks are super fast way to not only re-hydrate, but also get calories, glycogen, carbs and protein in immediately to start repairing those hard worked muscles and replace your sugar stores.
Your body is craving food. And although you want to eat an entire chocolate cake, or maybe a double hamburger with bacon the size of your head because your so hungry… it’s important to eat healthy, nutritious food to help your muscles heal and your body properly recovers.
4. Walk it out: The day after the race, as sore as you might be, it is important to go for a walk. This really helps prevent your muscles from tightening up more. Walking is a passive, low impact exercise that will help stretch things out and release some of the built up lactic acid. One of the worst things you can do the day after a race, as much as you’re going to want to, is staying stagnant all day. This will just further muscle soreness and stiffness. Get up and get moving, we promise you will feel better.
5. Foam Rolling: As much as it is going to hurt, it is an absolutely essential part of race recovery. 2-3 days after, get out that foam roller and roll it out. Yes, your calves, glutes, hips and quads might be on fire and yes rolling makes the pain that much more awesome. But you did this to yourself, so suck it up and do it because it will make a huge difference in recovery time! Foam rolling is an excellent way to control the healing and recovery process by applying pressure in precise locations. You can choose how much pressure you apply and you can feel exactly what is happening. The foam roller can get deep into those muscles that are hard to release by just stretching. Rolling can be done while watching TV for an hour or so. Try and get into those areas that feel the tightest so help release them. It’s going to hurt, but it’s important to release your muscles.
6. Cycling: A few days after the race if you’re feeling up to it, hop on your bike to stretch out your legs and get some cardio in, This is a good way to get your muscles firing again and test how well you are a recovering without any impact. Take it easy and don’t push yourself to hard.
7. Rest: Remember, you just trained for months for this race, and now your body deserves a break! It is so important to listen to your body, relax and rest! Put your feet up and take it easy. You deserve this time and your body will thank you for it as you train for your next race. You should really take it easy for the next week. After that you can start testing out the legs on some runs but don’t push it too hard if you don’t feel up to to. Listen to the cues your body gives you, and relish in the rest and relaxation that you earned! Keep in mind that everyone’s bodies recover at different rates. Don’t go back too hard too soon, rest as much as your body needs. It will be better in the long run if you and running plan to be in a long term relationship!