July 6, 2021
Is it just me or when you enter a challenging race or event you fantasise most about finishing it and how amazing it will be to look back on rather than looking forward to it? That is how I felt about my up and coming Race last weekend. 25 miles of trail racing on the Jurassic coast with the odd bit coasteering thrown in…
The truth is as soon as you cross the finish line you do not rest. Instead, you are crossing the start line to your recovery.
Having a plan for what you do in the minutes, hours, and days after completing your race will determine just how quickly you get your legs back and return to regular training.
I have a plan for my post long-race recovery and I thought I would share it with you to help you plan yours.
The First Hour
After turning in my timing chip and shaking the hand of the person I beat in a sprint finish (wishful thinking I know) I will start a proper cool-down. Walking, or a light jog, and stretching after finishing a race helps disperse lactic acid and other metabolic wastes from your muscles and jump-start the muscle repair process.
I will aim to stay on my feet for at least 45 minutes after my race finishes, keeping moving and stretching out my lower body. To help get the right nutrients into my body (replacing fluid losses, replenishing depleted stores of muscle and liver glycogen and taking on protein to repair damaged muscle cells) I will use a sports drink formulated especially for recovery.
The Next 24 Hours
I will avoid sitting still for longer than 20 minutes at a time. Moving and changing positions regularly helps you not stiffen up.
I will also focus on my nutrition. My glycogen stores will be severely compromised after racing and must be restored before I can return to normal training.
The Next 3 days
These are the days I am looking forward to. I will be mainly taking it easy. There is no fitness to be gained, and much recovery to be lost, in forcing yourself to stagger through even a short training run within 24 to 30 hours of racing at any distance. Instead, I will be enjoying walks with the dog and continuing with my usual Pilates stretch and strengthening routine.
The Week After
My next race event is a Triathlon in September. This will mean a completely different training cycle to prepare my body and mind for it. To get into that mindset and remind myself that exercise is also fun I plan to enjoy a bike ride with my husband (and try out my new road bike!) and a swim in the Faversham Lido.
After 7-10 days relative rest I will get started on my new training regimen focusing on covering shorter running distances but at higher speed, combined with cycling and swimming.
Wish me luck….