Crush your training cycle? Now it’s time to crush your recovery. Here are 6 post-race recovery tips to help you rest and recharge physically and mentally.
We all know that rest is an important part of the training cycle. After all, you can train hard all the time and you need to allow for rest periods in order to push hard again and make progress — not to mention sidestep injury.
What isn’t always so easy is actually putting a rest and recovery plan into action. What can you do to recover physically and mentally after a race?
It’s been two weeks since the Philly Half Marathon and I’ve been embracing this period of post-race recovery.
No structured workouts. No real plan. Maybe run if I felt like it. Maybe hit the gym if I wanted to. Maybe make my way back to my yoga mat. And you know what? It’s been great. I didn’t anticipate was how much my body and mind needed (and still needs) this time off.
If you’re having trouble actually putting a post-race recovery plan into action, here are six simple things to focus on to give your body and mind some time off.
And by move, I don’t mean resume an intensive training schedule. If you’ve just finished a race, your body is probably a bit sore and tired and it’s important to give you body and muscles time to repair and recover.
But moving does help with the recovery process. Start with walks and as the week progresses (and you feel like doing something more), hit the pool or do some light biking or elliptical. The key here is to keep it light and easy to help flush out your muscles and prevent you from getting too stiff.
2. Focus on Mobility
Speaking of feeling stiff, a key part of your post-race recovery plan should be mobility work. There’s a good chance that you might feel tightness and walking up or down stairs might be a challenge. (OK, maybe it’s just me!)
Active recovery and mobility work will also help increase circulation and help you recover faster. Think range of motion exercises (like leg swings, hip circles and hip flexor stretches) and myofascial release (foam rolling, trigger point, massage). But in the first week or so after your race, don’t get too aggressive with your self-massage because your muscles are likely still pretty tender and inflamed.
Recovery yoga or restorative yoga are also great options. These gentler styles of yoga won’t overstrain your muscles. And since they focus on relaxation, it will help you, your muscles and your mind unwind so that your body can focus on recovery.
3. Nourish Yourself
We all look forward to that post-race burger, beer and fries; pizza and wine; or [Insert dream meal here]. But after your celebratory meal, try to incorporate good for you, anti-inflammatory foods in your diet too. It’s not time to go crazy strict on your diet, and please don’t obsess, but nourishing yourself with good food will make you and your body feel better.
I mean, yes — sleep! It’s one of the best and simplest recovery tools. Your body repairs itself at night while you snooze so be sure you’re getting enough rest.
5. Pick up a Hobby
Chances are that you neglected a whole lot of other things while you were training. Now is a great time to spend doing something other than running. Read a book (a real book!). Knit. Practice the piano. Cook.Better yet, go hang out with your family and friends. While those may be the things that I long to do, you get the point.
Do something that takes your mind away from running and training and you’ll find that you’ll return to it feeling fresh and excited to run and train again.
6. Choose the Right Clothes
And I don’t mean just cute, flattering outfits. Compression is another great tool for post-race recovery. Compression can improve blood circulation (which helps get rid of metabolic waste) and get more oxygen to your muscles to help them repair faster.
Luckily, there’s a whole lot of specialized clothing to choose from such as leggings and tops. Look for gear that’s specifically designed for post-workout recovery. Some of my favorites come from SKINS’ RY400 line. Since you don’t need the same level of muscle support as you would if you were to wear it running, these leggings are a bit more comfortable (i.e. not as tight) and you can wear it longer. You can even sleep in them too! P.S. These are also great on long-haul flights.
I first tried the SKINS RY400 leggings at Rise.Run.Retreat. and wore them after both the Leaf Peepers Half Marathon and the Philly Half Marathon. I found that the way the fabric of the tights wrapped around my legs helped control the vibration in my muscles, meaning there was less muscle soreness. And they can totally pass as cut leggings under a tunic.
P.S. I also had a chance to try the:
- DNAmic Women’s Compression Long Tights (super cute print and great support for my muscles, meaning I wasn’t craving my foam roller like I usually do)
- A400 Women’s Compression Long Sleeve Top (looks scary tight but fits really well)
- SKINS Plus Odyssey Women’s Packable Jacket (a great, light outer layer for breezy days)
How do you like to recover post-race? What other tips would you add?
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by SKINS.
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