Spring is off to a running start and with it comes many of our favorite outdoor activities. Among them, races of every kind: bike races, triathlons, 5ks, and even races in the mud! Being active is great for our health, but another part of taking care of our bodies is knowing how to rest after intense physical activity. Here’s a quick overview of how to properly rest after the big race from start to finish.
The First Hour
After crossing the finish line, you may be tempted stop and relish in your well-deserved accomplishments, but this is one of the most important parts of your recovery. Whatever you do, don’t sit down! Keep moving! After prolonged physical activity, your body needs to gradually ease into a resting state. For any road race less than a 10k or other competitive events that don’t involve the distance of a marathon, stay in a light jog for up to 20 minutes, depending on your fitness level. The key here is to let your muscles cool down, flushing out metabolic waste and activating the muscle-repair process. After your active cooldown, begin stretching. If you’ve just raced a marathon distance or more, engage in the same processes, but walk instead of jog for the cool down.
The Next Day
As tempting as it may be to pop the champagne or have a beer for every mile you’ve traversed, avoid alcohol consumption for the next day, as it will interfere with the rehydration process. The other temptation to avoid, especially for the seasoned runner or athlete, may be to jump right back into training. When your body doesn’t have time to rest and replenish, no benefits are added to your fitness. Instead, focus on refueling your glycerin stores by eating 3-5 grams of carbohydrates for every pound that you weigh. Also remember to walk. Walking is a great form of active rest and will help foster the recovery process through circulation and movement.
The Next Week
The way you continue to recover over the next week depends on the type of race that you’ve just completed, your fitness level and when you plan to compete next. Continue to focus on refueling glycerin stores as well as staying hydrated. Cross training can also be a good alternative to staying active without interfering specifically with recovery. Pay attention to any pain that you may feel in your joints. This is the time to listen to your body to see what needs to heal and to respond accordingly.
Recovering the right way will ensure there are many more races to come! At OSC, we’re here to help you get back in the race however we can, whether recovering from an injury or performing gait analysis to help you compete better. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment and we’ll get you up and running in no time!