Maybe you just got done running the Crim, or a half or full marathon. Congratulations! PR or not you accomplished something amazing, but your body probably took a beating during this endeavor. You may not have felt the pain and fatigue at first as your endorphins carried you through the race, but these wear off soon after a race is done and when this happens your body isn’t afraid of letting you know. It’s important to know what to do after a race to recover properly so your body will be fully ready to run the next race sooner than later.
The Magic Hour
Most of the time you will see elite runners continue to run after the race, sometimes doing a big section of the course again backwards. They do this as a cool down to drive all the lactic acid out of their bodies which will help them to recover faster. Drinking water or a sports drink and replacing your electrolytes at this time are also critical to replace the nutrients that your body lost during the race.
After you are done running your race and/or cool down is a time called the magic hour. This is a critical time where it is extremely important to eat protein to repair your muscles and body. Things like power bars with protein (often marked “recovery”), steak, or lean meat are good to consume during this time to get enough protein in your system to help your body recover easier and faster.
One Day Recovery for Every Mile Raced
This may not be a hard and fast rule, but Curtis suggests it will take one day to recover for every mile raced. For example, if you run the ten mile Crim you shouldn’t plan on racing again until about ten days later. Notice we said racing, not running. You can continue to run every day after your race but your body probably won’t be up to speed to push 100% until this time is over.
However, don’t be afraid to take a day off if needed because rest can be a good thing for your body in the recovery process.
Make sure to take advantage of the magic hour after your next big race and your body will thank you later!