Recovery is perhaps the most difficult thing for someone after the big event. Whether it’s your first 5K or your second unofficial Goofy Challenge there is a mixed bag of emotions that come with crossing the finish line. Joy, relief, determination, excitement, the feeling that you WON’T be doing THAT again anytime soon, and the realization 24 hours later that you can’t wait to do it again…and better this time.
Besides recovering emotionally there is of course the physical component. There are some things you can do immediately post race to help your body recover “faster”. I put the word faster in quotes because time to recovery is relative to the individual and is a complicated equation.
Here are just a few things that effect time to recovery.
- Training Time for the Event (did you train for it or foolishly jump in over your head? …like me)
- Previous training (high school track doesn’t count unless you never stopped)
- Nutrition –> A lot goes under this one
- Rest (immediately after the event AND the weeks following)
We can’t do a lot about this one except keep training as that is the only way to minimize the effects of one more trip around the sun. Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something. You can’t outrun time. Just ask Captain Hook.
Training Time for the Event
Did you give yourself enough time to train for the event or did you wait until you had the bare minimum time to start a program? A lot of people will take 16-20 weeks to train for a marathon and 12-16 weeks for a half marathon. When I decided to run my first marathon I gave myself a year to train with a LOT of mile markers along the way. I ran three 5Ks, one 4.5 mile race and four half marathons on my way to running my first marathon at Disney. Preparation is key. Make the decision and go for it. When you are well trained recovery takes less time. Now days, I only need a day after a half marathon and I’m back full force 2-3 days after a full marathon.
Is this your first rodeo or is this your 6th or 60th marathon? If you continue to train (with periods of rest and cross training) then recovery will be easier and faster. Only training for eight weeks a year for your annual event will be a trip to eventual injury. Believe me, it’s harder to start over than it is to slow down a bit, but still keep going.
There is so much under this one that I could right about. Here are some general recovery tips concerning nutrition.
- Fuel before, during, and after a race.
- Take in some protein within 30 minutes of ending the event. Add some carbs to make it even better. I use EAS shakes.
- Don’t forget some electrolytes
- Don’t over hydrate
This should be an obvious one, but there are times when after a race that you don’t want to go rest…ahemDisneyRacesahem. Still, try to get as much rest as possible as soon as possible. After my first Disney marathon I went and took a three hour nap before hitting the parks. Taking it easy is good. Sitting and being off your feet is better. Sleep is best.
Rehabilitation (Rehab – They tried to make me go…)
This refers to those other things you can do such as:
- Ice bath or ice pack
- Compression gear
- Elevation of the legs
- Foam Roller
- The Stick
Many of these can and will speed recovery if used properly. I’ve used ALL of these.
You can’t help but give yourself time to recover. It takes, well, time. After my first Goofy Challenge I was surprised that it took me a month before I felt 100% again and started running again and was able to actually train. I’ve made it a habit to give myself time off after a race and really rest. I still am active, but in other things besides running. After my impromptu Goofy Challenge a few weeks ago I focused on weight lifting, short runs of 1-3 miles, and a lot of biking and elliptical. I just took the time to enjoy working out and not run allowing time for those running muscle to recover.
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