How does your body feel after running 21 gruelling kms? Picture this, at the end of the race, an army of sore bodies hobbling around recovering from their big race. You can’t help but get pumped for the next one. However it is your recovery action plan that will determine how quickly your body is ready to train like a champion again. Follow these 5 tips within 3 days of your race to ensure you bounce back better than before:
1. Drink 1.5 litres of sports drink in the 24hr after the race:
Yes we all know rehydration after a race is essential (around 600ml for every 30min that you run), but replenishing your sodium levels is crucial. We tend to lose about one teaspoon of sodium every 2 hours so it is really important to replenish these sodium stores during and after the race. Electrolyte/isotonic drinks such as Gatorade are good as they get absorbed very quickly. NB: Too much sodium in the body can lead to high blood pressure, so apart from race time, avoid excess salt in your diet.
Stretch straight after the race, but also stretch every day for the next 4 days. A minimum of 10mins will do. This helps your damaged muscle fibres to repair correctly, preventing scar tissue and permanent flexibility loss. Hamstrings, hips flexors, lower back and calves are the absolute essentials. Don’t look after these puppies and you’re a gonner! Don’t force the stretches, you should be able to feel it but not be in pain. Hold each stretch for 30-60secs, and slow your breathing right down.
3. Get some blood back in your muscles:
Massage, hot baths, very gentle exercise (not running!) all increase blood flow to the muscles. The more blood that pumps through these muscles, the more nutrients can be delivered to repair them, and the faster they will recover.
4. Eat iron rich foods:
Think Popeye and his spinach habit. Think big juicy steak. Iron is responsible for getting oxygen to your working muscles and distance running can deplete these iron stores, causing anything from fatigue, to fainting. Dark green leafy vegetables contain iron as does lean red meat. So be sure to eat plenty of these in the week following your race.
5. Rest and sleep:
Try to get 8hrs sleep for 3 nights in a row. The only exercise should be super easy such as a swim. Be proud, you’ve achieved a milestone! Now give your body a break and it will reward you with a speedy recovery and many more years of running!
What other tricks do you use to recover after your event?