Q: How do you recover after a hard race?
Amy Marsh answers:
A: This question couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. Brandon and I raced just last weekend at IRONMAN 70.3 Vineman. Though not a full IRONMAN, we both raced hard and finished strong. After an event like that, the body needs some TLC. Below are take-away tips on how we recover from a race:
Keep moving — The day after a race we like to go for a nice easy swim or spin on the bikes. It’s important to keep the body moving to promote circulation and help with recovery. The intensity of these “workouts” is VERY easy, just enough to loosen you up. A good rule of thumb is to take one easy day, per one hour of racing.
Enjoy a massage — A day or two after the race, we get a massage to flush out any residual muscle soreness. In addition to improving physical health, massages can relieve mental fatigue. Ridding the body of all types of stressors will help keep the immune system strong.
Wear compression gear — Brandon and I find that compression socks or sleeves are great for traveling and especially useful after races. They keep the blood flowing to tired, cramping muscles, which, like a massage, helps speed up recovery.
Go to bed — Sleep is probably the most vital facet of race recovery. Try to get to bed early and allow yourself to sleep in for a couple days. If you can, let your body wake on its own time. We aim for 8-10 hours of sleep each night during the week following a race. And if your schedule permits, don’t be ashamed of taking a 30-60-minute nap during the day.
Eat well — For the following day or two, we allow ourselves to eat whatever our bodies crave. We take this as a sign our bodies probably need it — and we certainly have earned it! After a few indulging moments, it’s time to get back to eating well-balanced meals. Also, be sure to stay hydrated. Brandon and I drink lots of water and electrolyte replacement drinks in the days after a race.
Recouping from any endurance event requires patience. As competitive athletes, it can be hard not to jump right back into your vigorous training schedule. But, this is not the time to shine. Your body is fatigued and your immune system weakened. Take it from the pros, proper race recovery will pay off in the long-term.