Updated: Jul 3
Running can be a fun and rewarding activity but can cause sore tired muscles after a race. Here are a few post-race recovery tips to keep you ready for your next race and/or training run.
Plan to have a little time after a race for a cooldown. Everyone is at different levels of fitness so there is no one way to cool down.
A cooldown can include a light jog, walk around the block or parking, and or a light stretch. You can try different ways to cool down to see what works best for you.
HYDRATE AND REFUEL
Replenishing what you lost while running is the best way to aid in your recovery from a race. The best way to replenish what you lost is to get something to eat and drink shortly after finishing. It is best to try and eat and drink something within the first 60 minutes of finishing a race as your body will absorb nutrients quicker in this time frame.
You do not need to eat a big meal after a race but it is recommended that you get a combination of carbohydrates and protein. Most races provide a decent post-race snack but if they don’t, here are a few good ideas.
Granola Bar, banana, and a bottle of water.
Peanut butter sandwich, apple, and Gatorade.
Chocolate milk is a great recovery drink as it gives you both carbs and protein.
Sleep is your best friend when trying to recover. Our bodies recover the most when we are sleeping, so it is best to get the recommended 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. Lack of sleep can not only affect your recovery after a race but your overall health.
A few tips for better sleep:
Cool and quiet: room temp should be 20-27 degrees with little to no noise. A fan or other white noise is ok to help drown out outside noise.
Watch your stimulant intake (caffeine): don’t drink a lot of caffeine a few hours before bed.
Lights out: try not to play on your phone/computer for an hour before you go to bed and your room should be completely dark.
Be calm: try doing something that will relax you before you go to bed like reading a book.
USE A FOAM ROLLER
Another great way to help with sore tight muscles is to roll out or foam roll. This can be done shortly after a race or later in the evening as you are winding down for the night. You should spend one to two minutes on each area you are rolling out.
CONTINUE RECOVERY TOMORROW
It is not only the day of a race that can help with recovery. To alleviate the soreness you may feel the next morning, you can do some light activities like go for a walk, an easy bicycle ride, or stretch/ foam roll again.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Justin Carroll (AT, ATC) is a licensed Athletic Trainer with Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists at Jonesville High School. When not working with student-athletes, Justin likes to work out and train for different endurance races and work on his house.