When was the last time you ran a really fast race or maybe a really long race and felt perfectly fine afterward?
If you are anything like me when I finish a race, I feel like an elephant just finished sitting on me. I feel crushed and in a million tiny pieces. It sometimes takes me almost a week before I feel back to normal again. The longer the race, the more time I need to recover before I do another really hard effort.
Knowing that it takes me a very long time to recover, I make sure that my recovery is on point. In my approach to racing, I not only focus on how the race will go (time, pace, place) I also make it a priority to focus on my immediate recovery.
What’s good (and bad) about recovering from a race is that everyone needs something slightly different. Where I believe sleep and modifying training is really important, someone else might find that they can continue on with the training they had planned. In general though these 6 areas are places where we can focus some of our attention to maximize our recovery from racing.
Because at the end of the day, the quicker we recover, the faster we can get back to full training so we can race again.
As soon as I finish a hard session – whether it’s a workout, long run, or race, I’m looking to put food back into my system. When I’m out at the racecourse, I’m not hoping that they will supply me with food when I’m done – I bring what I want so that I know it’ll be there.
Don’t bank on a race to supply you with food. They may and that’s lovely, but they might not have what you like, they may not have something that sits well with you (I see you post-race yogurts), or you might simply just miss out. Either way, be sure to bring your own food.
Some of my personal favorites to bring: Clif Bars, fruit like banana or apple, peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
If I’m finishing a hard run and I’m not at home – maybe I’m on the trails or started in a different town – I always have something with me to start the recovery process right away.
Part of my recovery process starts the second I cross the finish line. Most often, it includes changing into dry clothes and beginning a cool down. The cool down is so essential to help minimize soreness in the upcoming days. Not only that but dry clothes just feel so much better!
I am a really big fan of compression socks. I have 3 pairs from different brands, but my best pair are from CEP.
You might not be a fan of racing in compression socks [maybe you wear them after], but you’ll have to play around during training and see what works for you.
I have some new “toys” that I’m really excited to bring to races in the future. Part of my arsenal includes a foam roller, massage stick, and a lacrosse ball, but now I’ve added a massage gun. While the traditional equipment is amazing for helping me recover from a hard effort, the massage gun is a step above.
I’ve tried different drinks over my 20+ years of running and I keep coming back to water. There’s nothing like a cold bottle of water waiting for me when I finish a race.
Now that I’m a Nuun ambassador, I am a really big fan of popping in a Nuun sport tablet and recovering just a tad bit quicker.
My best form of recovery is by far sleep. Yes, food and drink right after are great. Yes, getting into compression socks feel amazing. But a nap? There is nothing better. Sleep is so good at repairing damaged muscles and I am a big believer in getting lots and lots of sleep. An early night will drastically improve your ability to recover.
In the days immediately after a race, it’s key to listen to your body and change up your plan to fit how you feel. You might have had mile repeats on the calendar for early in the week, but if your body isn’t recovered like you want it to be, it’s best to move the workout to later in the week. Doing a workout when your body says not to is like trying to squeeze a zucchini into a pencil sharpener and expecting good results.
The best way to recover from a race or hard effort is different for each and every one of us. There are, however, things that we can all do to run hard and recover so we can do it all over again!
One thing that’s true for everyone: you have to plan exactly what works for you. If you don’t have a plan and you fly by the seat of your running shorts, anything can and will happen. You don’t want that, do ya?
Are you about ready to run fast? These 6 tips #TrainwithMarc will help you recover and come back quicker.Tweet
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Marc is a USATF Track and Field & Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT O2 certified running coach. I have more than 19 years of experience running and more than 10 years of experience coaching runners. Click for more information!
Marc is a middle school teacher and coach but also works with distance runners online. I help distance runners around the globe by providing support, writing customized training plans and designing workouts to help them reach their racing goals. I write for my blog every Wednesday morning and newsletter every Friday morning.