As we move later into the season, more and more people are finishing their “A” races and heading into recovery mode. Marine Corps Marathon and New York City Marathon are over, Richmond is next week, Philadelphia is the weekend after that… (Yes, I’m east coast focused. Sorry, it’s where I live.) And for most, once the “A” race is finished, it’s time to recover.
So, for this week’s Tuesdays on the Run, April, Patty, and I want to hear about how you handle your race recovery. What do you do immediately? How about the days following? Do you have a tried and true recovery plan that works for you?
Here are my tips for race recovery. I’ll be the first to admit, my body seems to bounce back faster than one would expect. I think some of that is because of my post race behavior, but a lot is just how my body works. So, my recovery usually involves doing something crazy like running another race the next day. But I really wouldn’t recommend that as the best recovery option.
Immediately post race (or at least as soon as possible afterwards)
- Refuel – hydrate + eat a combination of protein and carbs. For me, most of the time this equals a glass of chocolate milk or a bottle of Muscle Milk.
- Take an epsom salt bath – I know there are those that swear by ice baths, but I’m not that girl. I don’t enjoy them and I find that epsom salt baths work better when I’m planning on running again soon.
- Compression – I love compression after a long hard race. I can’t sleep in it, but I love to wear my compression socks for the remainder of the day. When I ran the five half marathons in five days, I ran the race in compression, took an epsom salt bath, and then put on a clean pair of compression socks. Sometimes I even make some really classy choices…
In the days following the race:
- Keep moving – I’m a huge believer in active recovery. I don’t necessarily mean run – go for a walk or do an easy yoga session or light ride on your bike. I walked the 3 miles home after the end of the Marine Corps Marathon and, while I wasn’t in love with it at the time, I think it made a huge difference in my recovery.
- Reverse taper – if your race distance was long enough to have a taper as part of the training plan, an excellent way to get back in the groove is to reverse your taper until you are back to a normal number of miles for you.
- Foam roll/use a stick/ stretch – I personally find the foam roller to be my best friend after a race, but your mileage may vary. Don’t do anything crazy, but if you know that a little pigeon pose will help you out, by all means, do it.
- Listen to your body – even if you are no longer sore, your body may give you signs that it’s not ready to run again. Respect that and take a little extra rest. After a hard race, it’s ok to give yourself a break for a while.