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?
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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.
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19 thoughts on “Tips for Race Recovery”
Great tips! I really like the idea of the reverse taper, usually I just jump back into training for the next race but maybe this would help with injury prevention 🙂
I haven’t found any benefit in Epsom salt baths but my sister swears by them. I prefer wrapping myself in compression!
Definitely keep moving is my number 1 favorite. I find I’m less sore if I just walk for at least 10 minutes after a hard race, it makes a difference in soreness. And compression socks. They just feel good!
Compression! The thought alone relaxes my muscles. I would like to hug the person who invented recovery compression socks 😉
Epsom salt baths are my favorite! No ice baths for me. Foam rolling is a great part of my everyday recovery. I like to do Yoga classes after a long run as well. Happy Tuesday!
Certainly don’t do what I did after my first half. Sit in the car, sit at the hotel, sit at lunch, sit on a plane to go home. Yeah, I could barely move the next day.
I like a good hot soak…not an icy one. I think to keep moving is most important. I’ll walk my dogs for several miles every day after a long race. They love it. I will also sleep in compression sleeves on the first night as my calf muscles tend to twitch.
Great tips! I’m a fan of the compression gear and active recovery. This is the 2nd time I’ve heard of the epsom salt bath and I think I’m going to have to give that a try! It sounds so much more pleasant than an ice bath.
The epsom salt bath is amazing! Good recommendation!
Great tips! Compression socks can really make a big difference for sure. And I need someone to come to my house and make me use my foam roller! I’ve gotten so bad about neglecting it but it is so effective!
I want to be that person who does ice baths, but I’m with you! Epsom salt in warm water is the way to go! And I love the compression sleeves with sandals look. Very classy;). Great post!
A huge breakfast is what motivates me through the last few miles of a long run or a race! It’s my favorite thing! Great post.
Oh I forgot about compression, that is so helpful! And making sure that you’re eating the right foods is key! I wish I could recover as quickly as you!!
I try to eat good quality food in the week after a hard race (yeah, I should be doing that all the time but even more so when I’ve flogged my body.) Lots of fruit and vegetables. A little extra protein to help with muscle repair. And lots of fluids.
walking after a race makes a HUGE difference for me. even after a particularly long or hard run – being active the next day helps a LOT!
Going for a walk in the PM has been my best recovery. I walked all around in Epcot for my kid to meet Princess after PHM and I didn’t feel sore in the least bit. Same with Chicago Marathon. I hobbled all around Michigan Avenue for some shopping and by next day I didn’t even feel like I had run a marathon.
I’m addicted to epsom salt baths now. I actually like to do them the night before a big race or a long run too!
Ooh, before? That sounds like a nice plan!
Yep, the night before with a nice glass of wine….helps to relax! Or beer in your case 😉