Here are some helpful Post-Race Recovery Tips to kickoff race season!
Flood your body with nutrients
The post race junk food is so inviting and definitely well deserved BUT it is so vital to consume nutrient dense foods after a race. Whenever you experience hunger that’s your body saying “feed me nutrients.” Post race you may not feel hungry but then all of a sudden it hits you and you want to eat all the things…that’s when making smart choices is key. I am not saying to deny yourself a post race treat, but just make sure you are also eating the good stuff. When you take care of your body it will take care of you. If you want to recover faster fuel your body well.
Dehydration is very common post race and is something that should not be taken lightly. Water is life. Keeping properly hydrated is key for our bodies to optimally function. Make sure you are well hydrated before, during and post race. When racing you lose a lot of water and electrolytes (mainly sodium and potassium) through sweat. A good rule of thumb for everyday hydration is to drink half your body weight in ounces…when it comes to running (especially when logging the longer miles) your body needs more. Think about it, about 70% of our bodies are made up of water, so if we are dehydrated what does that do to our body?! This may be TMI but it needs to be said, an easy way to monitor hydration is through the color of your urine - you want it to be clear. If it’s yellow then you aren’t drinking enough water. Drink up for faster recovery! Here’s a helpful tip: for faster absorption room temperature water is the best bet.
Keep your body moving
I know it sounds tempting to veg out on the couch post race, but you aren’t doing your body any good by staying immobile. After a race I always try to keep my body moving for at least 30 minutes before I take a shower and relax for a bit…I also make it my business to walk around throughout the day. Walking post race helps to keep the blood flowing and can reduce stiffness/soreness in the muscles. It also helps speed up the recovery process. I also suggest stretching to reduce the risk of injury (I focus primarily on legs and lower back). Foam rolling later in the day or the next day is also a great way to ease muscle soreness.
I always wear compression when I run and post race - wearing compression sleeves/socks/tights help increase circulation and reduce lactic acid build-up. Compression has been a total game changer for me in terms of performance and with my recovery - I swear by compression sleeves during my runs/races and compression socks/tights post race. This is a non-negotiable for me.
Takes some time for yourself to reflect on what you just accomplished - no matter what the distance. Pause. Breathe. Take it all in. Be grateful. Think of your “Why” - what got you here in the first place. Get rid of any negative thoughts - it’s okay if this wasn’t a PR for you. Stop stressing over things you can’t control (weather, tummy issues, etc). Focus on your accomplishment and the new lessons you learned. Set new intentions. Focus on the good stuff. Set a new goal. Be mindful and treat yourself and your body with kindness…and while you are at it, treat others with kindness too. Be grateful for the body you have and that you are able to run. Running is a privilege.