You’ve been planning the past few months for your upcoming race, now’s the time to think about your race recovery. Most experts say your recovery is as important, if not more important, than your training leading up to a race. With so much riding on how you heal post-race, a recovery plan is an absolute must if you want to get back to training in the shortest amount of time. From ice baths to chocolate milk, here are eight race recovery tips to help you get back on your feet for your next run.
As soon as you cross that finish line, find the nearest water source and drink—drink like never before. Even if you don’t feel like hydrating, keep a drink, preferably high in electrolytes, nearby. You just lost a lot of fluids through sweating, so you’ll need all the hydration you can get.
#2 Don’t Sit, Stay Standing
Refrain from sitting immediately following a race. Doing so will ensure a difficult time trying to stand back up. Fatigue and stress are slowly creeping into your anterior and posterior muscles, so slowly work your way into walking. Take a trip to the water stand for a refill, or make your rounds of congratulating some of your fellow finishers while staying on your feet. Now move your way into standing in place. Once you feel like your muscles have calmed down, you’re free to sit.
#3 Grab a Bite
Just like you need to stay hydrated, your body is yearning for some fine caloric intake. Grab a protein bar, maybe some granola, and start chowing. It’s all about the calories, so really anything will do. You probably have a grand feast planned for the end of your day, so there’s no need overload on snacks and spoil your appetite.
#4 Roll, Roll, Roll Your Muscles
Following the race and into the weeks of recovery ahead, purchasing a foam roller doesn’t hurt. Well, it’ll obviously hurt your muscles, but you get the idea. Sore muscles are a given after any race, but foam rollers help speed up the process of healing by massaging muscle tissue, breaking up knots, and encouraging blood flow to sensitive areas. Those with a higher pain tolerance should try using a lacrosse ball, which offers a stronger, intensive massage. Not interested in using a lacrosse ball? Tennis balls work great and can even be used on the arches of your feet, too.
#5 Got Dairy Today?
If you loved drinking chocolate milk as a kid, good news: It’s time to start again. As an adult, it might feel weird to have an affinity for chocolate milk, but runners like Ryan Hall swear by the beverage. Thanks to its high levels of calcium, protein, and vitamin D, chocolate milk, and even protein shakes, are ideal post-workout and recovery drinks. To learn more about the chocolate milk craze, check out the following articles on the matter:
- Nutrition and Fuel Tips from Ryan Hall
- Why you should try chocolate milk after a workout
- Is Chocolate Milk Really a Good Recovery Drink After Running?
#6 Ice, Ice Baby
Vanilla Ice fans know the direction we’re headed: icing after a race. Doctors, moms, and runners all recommend it, so it’s a safe bet to rely on ice if you’re looking for soothing relief on sore muscles. Want to save the ice? Frozen vegetables will do the trick. In the same vein, a cold vegetable can works great if you want to roll out the soles of your feet. The key here is to keep inflammation down when you’re resting. Just keep icing in mind whenever you’re not moving and you’ll be on the right track toward a full race recovery.
#7 Keep It Simple
Just because a race recovery method is dated doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time for a change, but setting your sights on new and novel recovery tips can also be a great way to find alternatives. More often than not, it’s often the basic, simple recovery practices that guarantee a safe and fast recovery. Look for new ways to recover, just don’t get too crazy, and always keep your safety in mind!
#8 Patience Is a Virtue
Seasoned runners will tell you the average recovery takes two to three weeks, so just accept it. Stay away from anything telling you otherwise! You just finished a huge accomplishment, one that only the strong few can tout: Relish in your victory! Take time to ease back into your running routine and make rest your top priority. You know your body better than anyone, so if you’re still not feeling 100 percent after three weeks, just wait patiently and you’ll be there soon. If pain or soreness persists, it doesn’t hurt to visit a physical therapist or doctor just to be safe. Bonus Tip: For those adventurous runners seeking a new kind of treatment during their recovery, cupping might be worth looking into. We can’t personally speak to the benefits, but we’ve heard through the grapevine that it can be a fast, but painful way to treat sore muscles. Read more about cupping therapy here if you’re interested. Now that you’ve got a better idea of how you’ll approach recovery, we hope you feel at ease going into your future races. Start thinking about swapping your old pair out for a new pair of shoes following your race. Take a look at our selection of GORE-TEX Shoes perfect for your next run.