Congrats! After weeks of hard work and training, you crossed the finish line of your race! While the main event might be over, your work here is not quite done. Race recovery is just as important as all the prep work that went into training for the race.
Here’s how you can speed the process up and take care of your body in the process.
Immediately after the race:
It’s tempting to sit (or collapse!) after crossing the finish line. Walk for at least 15 minutes after crossing the finish line so your muscles don’t seize up. Keeping your body moving after the race will actually make your recovery time easier in the days to come.
Refuel and rehydrate
In the time immediately following a distance race, rehydrating and refueling are key. Drink lots of water or a drink with added electrolytes and eat a snack high in salt (like pretzels) or potassium (like a banana).
Once you’re home:
Take an ice bath (if you’re daring)
If you can handle the chill, take a 20-minute ice bath as soon as you can to reduce soreness in your muscles.
Take it easy
Don’t make any crazy plans for the hours following your race. Instead, take it easy, treat yourself to a meal high in carbohydrates and protein, and continue to drink lots of water throughout the day.
The day after the race:
Hold off on getting a massage and returning to activity
While you might want to get a massage ASAP to help your sore muscles, you’ll actually benefit more from the massage if you wait a few days. Immediately following the race, your muscles will be sore and inflamed — and you don’t want to cause further muscle damage.
Three days later:
Get a massage
Treat yourself to a sports massage to help your body recover and treat lingering aches and pains. Be sure to wait at least 48 hours post race, though, as you don’t want to further damage your muscles.
Return to low-impact activity
While your body is still recovering, focus on low-impact activities. Hopping on the spin bike is a great, low-impact way to get your legs moving and break up the lactic acid in your them. Swimming or other water-based workouts are also great to get the blood moving and speed up the healing process as well.
You might be itching to get back to running, but remember that recovery takes time! Let your body properly heal so when you hit the pavement again you’ll be strong and ready to go.