You've trained. You’ve smashed your event. Your next challenge is all about your recovery.
The quantity and quality of recovery time is really important. Good recovery will actually help your body get stronger. And that's true, whether you've taken on a 5k, ultra, or triathlon, our bodies all need a chance to recover.
If you don't schedule in enough recovery time (and rest days if you are training), you risk putting more stresses on your body, losing motivation and any progress you've made, developing over-training syndrome, and you will have an increased risk of injury or illness.
Here's our top tips to speed your post-event recovery...
1. Immediately post-race
- Move - keep moving (sorry!), walk around post-race to keep the blood flowing to your muscles and prevent stiffness and cramping.
- Stretch - stretch out those tired legs.
- Hydrate - drink plenty of water, coconut water or a sports drink.
- Refuel - a banana is ideal.
- Some events will have a sports massage therapist at the finish. Massage immediately after an event can make a real difference in how stiff your legs become later, preventing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Have a read of our blog to find out more about the benefits of massage immediately after an event.
2. Post-race (same day)
- Refuel - try to eat a couple of small meals high in protein and carbs. We like bagels with eggs, salmon and avocado as our post-race meal.
- Soak - have a soak in a warm (not hot) bath, add epsom salts to help with muscle aches.
- Rest and elevate - put your feet up, literally. Elevate those legs.
- Hydrate - more water (or a sports drink), check the colour of your urine to make sure you are hydrated enough.
- Sleep - get some good zzzzs in! Good sleep equals good recovery and gives your body time to repair itself.
- Compression - this one is up to you, but some people find wearing compression clothing aids recovery.
3. The following days
- Hydration (again!) - you might wake up feeling stiff so keep the hydration up! It really will help flush out all the toxins and help recovery.
- Refuel - keep the good food going in!
- Massage - use a foam roller, concentrate on areas giving you any trouble, probably your calves, quads or hamstrings.
- More massage - treat yourself and book a sports massage. Research shows the sooner you have a massage post-race the better so we suggest the next day or so. Remember to hydrate well after using the foam roller or having a sports massage.
- Get moving - when you feel up to it, a gentle jog/walk will help encourage blood flow to your muscles.
4. The following week
- Start to build up your running again, but only if your muscles feel fine to do so. Try mixing in some cross-training (so you are using muscles you didn’t use for the run), swimming, yoga or Pilates to build overall strength.
- Running too soon after a big event can do more harm than good. Rest days are important, take them!
What not to do...
Taking ibuprofen during or after an event is a no-no. It may seem like a good idea, but you can actually be harming your recovery. It can mask any warning niggles and pain potentially making injuries worse. Also, if used during an event they can affect digestion, kidneys and dilute important electrolytes.