Congratulations runners! Whether you've smashed your PB, run your first marathon, half marathon or 10km or you've enjoyed a day out fun running over the Sydney Harbour Bridge with your nearest and dearest - you've done it.
Instead of just hitting the couch - tempting as that may be - follow our 10 expert-backed tips for a more active recovery. You'll be re-engerised and refreshed in no time to chase down your next fitness goal.
1. Cool down
You’ll be aching and tired but 15 minutes of walking or gentle cycling after your run can make all the difference. Add in some gentle stretching
to allow your muscles to gradually relax. Current research supports an active recovery.
2. Warm up
Your body temperature will drop soon after you finish the race. Be prepared with some warm clothes to prevent cold, stiff & sore muscles from taking over!
3.Rehydrate and refuel
Rehydrating after your race is crucial. Drink some sports drink with electrolytes
immediately after the race. Be aware of over-hydration though – 13% of runners in the Boston Marathon demonstrated evidence of hyponatraemia (low sodium levels as a result of drinking too much water and losing salts through sweat).
To help develop a fluid intake plan, both during and after exercise, it's important to know your 'sweat rate
'. To keep it really simple - weigh yourself before and after exercise. If you weigh less - hydrate more; if you weigh more - hydrate less.
Also, try to avoid caffeine and alcohol during this time.
Plus, don’t forget to eat to replace the energy stores that will aide in your recovery.
After the race your body is looking to make more glycogen (stored carbohydrates) as well as to repair damaged muscle tissue. A great ratio to aim for with carbohydrates and proteins post event is a 3:1 or a 4:1 of carbohydrate:protein.
Compression garments can provide surface pressure to specific body parts to enhance circulation and deliver more oxygen to active muscles.
Improved circulation helps eliminate lactic acid build-up and other metabolic wastes. The compression can work to limit injury caused by overextending muscles.
5. Easy does it
How long before you can head back to training is very subjective. If you felt good during the run you can be back into it after only a few days.
Beware however, muscle soreness can actually worsen 2-3 days after you’ve run, so respect your body and don’t overdo it
. Your body will take some time to recover from the ordeal of a long run.
It’s anecdotal, but as a general rule, allow at least one day for every kilometre run before you get back to full training. During this time you may gradually increase your runs, but keep the intensity easy.
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Reduce the risk of injury by modifying your activity for the first 5 – 7 days after your race. Low-impact exercise for 20 – 30 minutes
is advisable. Walking, cycling or swimming are good alternatives.
Although you may feel like a long hot bath, this heat may increase the negative effects of microtearing that occurred in your muscles and tendons during the run.
While only the most hard-core can handle an ice bath, go easy on the hot tap. Ice can also be applied to the sorest areas. Apply for 10 – 20 minutes for 24 – 48 hours after the race.
8. Post-event blues
It’s not uncommon for you to feel a bit down and uninterested in running after an event. Talk about your experiences with family and friends and recognise your achievement in finishing the race.
It may also be helpful to try cross-training
or join a club to get motivated again
9. Injury prevention
Injury prevention is key both leading up to and recovering from a running event. If you experience pain that goes beyond normal muscle fatigue
, it’s worth getting in to see a good sports physiotherapist to have it checked out.
Smug smiles, knowing nods, sharing war stories! Be proud of a huge achievement.