We are excited today on the Zim’s blog to finish up our 3 part series of racing tips. Previously we have covered race preparation, participation and now we are focusing on recovery. Unfortunately this is the part most likely to be ignored with is a problem as it is arguably the most crucial in terms of overall health. Too often after completion of a goal we want to reward ourselves and while that’s not a problem it can leave our muscles and training vulnerable if not done correctly.
So here goes some tips on how to recover well from the big race:
1. Don’t Binge- While it can be tempting to gorge on food after a long race that can be a big mistake. Overeating so soon after extreme physical activity can make you sick and nobody wants that on their big day.
Instead go for complex carbohydrates and recovery foods like chocolate milk, grilled chicken, cottage cheese and peanut butter and crackers. Sometimes it helps to have a place reserved or scheduled you know will have the kind of food that works for your body and will be satisfying.
2. Get Hydrated- After a run or swim (especially a swim in the ocean or salt water) it is very important to get hydrated. Drink water and/or a fortified sports drink or water with electrolytes. We’ve talked about sports drinks before on this blog and often they are superfluous; however, after a major race is a time when they are helpful and will bring your potassium levels up after being depleted. This will help you to not get faint or pass out after the race.
3. Cool-Down Effectively- Sometimes in our excitement of finishing a race we forget to do a proper cool-down. This helps clear out the lactic acid from our muscles that have built up in the race. It also “activates mitochondria in the muscles that process hydrogen ions and remove fatigue faster”
Doing some stretching and flexibility exercises will also help the muscles to wind down from the extreme activity and will help us to not have cramping or other problems as we recover. It takes a second to stop and get that stretching in but it is very important. Don’t forget!
4. Cold Shower- We have probably all seen images of professional athletes in tubs of ice water and wondered what they are doing. The answer is getting into an ice bath for around 10 minutes can help reduce inflammation and improve blood flow to muscles.
A cold shower can also do the trick and even if it is a bit shocking your muscles will thank you in the end.
What do you like to do to recover from a race? We would love to hear about your strategies in the comments section.