Whether you’re a marathon runner, sprinter or even triathlon athlete, race recovery is one of those essential but often misunderstood steps in the physical activity. Everything you do after the race has an enormous impact on your recovery time and how much strain your muscles feel.
If you’re planning on running a marathon soon or you’re tired of the aches and pains you feel after an intense race, then you need to learn about race recovery. It’s a series of techniques that come together to create a plan used by all elite athletes. The goal is to help athletes swiftly recover so that they can continue training and pushing their bodies, preparing for the next race ahead of them. Race recovery is a vital step that should be a component of any marathon plan, and here’s how to take advantage of it.
Nutrition After Your Race
One of the most overlooked components of post-race recovery is nutrition. Ultimately, the food you eat and the pre-marathon supplements you take are going to have a lasting effect on your body’s recovery rate. Racing, marathons, triathlons and pretty much any endurance-based exercise or sport is going to put stress on your body. The longer your race, the more strain your body will experience and the more extended the recovery period.
This deep strain is why it’s essential to consider your nutritional intake at all stages of your race. Whether it is taking electrolyte supplements for athletes before the race, rehydrate supplements on the day you compete, or keeping hydrated, there are plenty of considerations to keep in mind that will help your muscles repair faster.
After your race, you’ll want to consider the following for nutrition:
- Take a protein and electrolyte filled Recovery powder after a race
- Plan a healthy nutrient-rich snack an hour or more after racing
- This meal should include carbs, protein, and healthy fats
- Eat this snack once you’ve replenished your body, giving it enough energy to repair your muscles
One of the reasons we eat after a race is to replenish our glycogen storage, which is responsible for keeping us going. Also, the body tends to shut down non-essential functions when running for longer than 30 to 60 minutes. Digestion is one system that the body puts on hold while running and it doesn’t come back online for around 45 to 90 minutes post race. This is why most people look to electrolyte supplements for runners, as they provide the right balance of sugar, protein and calories in a readily digestible format for post-race recovery.
It’s important to note that eating shouldn’t be the first step towards healing your body after running. Recovery Powder should be your go-to choice after putting your body through the strain of a long run. It provides the best protein, New Zealand Whey Protein Isolate, and electrolytes in an easily digestible format, perfect for following up a race. Ideally, it should be taken immediately after running and then every 15 to 20 minutes after the race, when the body is hyper digesting. You should do this for about an hour following the competition. Only then can you eat, as by that point the body has returned to its normal baseline.
Resting After a Race
Of course, we can’t forget the importance of letting your body rest after a stressful race. You’ll want to allow your body to relax for a couple of days before you do anything that could strain your muscles (such as another race). Still, it’s a good idea to do some light exercise to keep your body ready. The longer your run (both in distance and time spent), the more time you should let your body rest.
However, it’s a good idea to ensure that you’re not resting for too long. Letting your body sit dormant for long during recovery will make it harder for you to get back into the groove once you start training again. 1-3 days of rest will be good enough for most people, but feel free to add an extra day if you’re feeling particularly sore or if you’re not yet accustomed to racing.
Following the race, massages are usually a fantastic way to help reduce pain and soreness, also giving your muscles a chance to relax. Another solution is to take an Epsom salt bath or even an ice bath to help race recovery. It feels terrific and soothes your body’s soreness. Remember to get plenty of sleep as well, and don’t be tempted to use painkillers or medication to remedy the aches.
Let’s summarise these tips to make it easier for you to rest after a race:
- If possible, keep your compression clothing on to help your muscles heal faster
- Don’t take painkillers of any sort if you are experiencing aches and pains
- Light exercise is the key to helping accelerate your body’s natural repair process. You can do some light cycling, go for a walk or even do a few stretches
- Resting for 1-3 days after a race is fine
- Remember to sleep!
Your Mind Needs to Recover Too
Don’t underestimate the recovery time on your mind! Many runners will find themselves longing to return to the track and start racing again, but your brain needs time to recover as well. Your body will have high levels of dopamine and serotonin, so your feelings post-race will be all over the place, and you’ll feel an urge to talk about the race, post pictures, discuss it on social media or even rant about it to your friends.
It’s okay to feel incredible after a race, but give yourself time to block out negative experiences during or after the run and relax your mind as well. If you had a poor race experience, then resist the urge to talk or complain about it. Take some time off, do some light training and give yourself time to internalize everything that happened before you attempt to analyze your mistakes or adjust your training so that you have a better race in the future.
You’ll find the best electrolyte supplement for your specific athletic needs right here on Eload. Contact us for more information about our muscle hydration supplements and how to get what you need for your race recovery.