The road to recovery – seven tips to remember after a race
Team Brooks athlete John Dutton has shared his top seven tips for recovering after a race. John is an experienced long distance runner, and was trained by Australian running legend Steve Moneghetti. In 2015, he won the Ultra Marathon at the Canberra Running Festival and was crowned the sixth fastest Australian in history over the 50km distance.
It has been said that too many people focus solely on the end goal of obtaining that elusive PB or crossing the finish line. However, to be successful and a long term runner recovery plays a huge role in improving performance, longevity and enjoyment in what you do.
Rehydration- The time to rehydrate is now. Immediately after a race when you are chatting to your friends regarding your performance is the ultimate time to rehydrate, do not wait too long.
- As soon as your race is finished, a key component to recovery is refueling. Especially in warm conditions, you will need to replenish the salts and electrolytes sweated out during intense exercise; in order to aid muscle recovery.
- It is important to continue to rehydrate over the next day or two after the race as your body needs to replace sweat losses and it is not uncommon to become dehydrated during an unusually long and strenuous bout of exercise.
Refuel – Food, Food, Food!
- Everyone loves to celebrate after a race with sweet food or beverages, aim only for a small treat for reward then move on to a more nutritious treat within 30 – 60 minutes of your race. This is when your muscles are ready to optimize nutrients and glycogen consumed.
- Good nutrition is most important after a race rather than consuming simple sugars such as soft drinks, cakes and sweets. Consuming more nutritious foods such with protein and carbohydrates is advisable.
- Consume protein – Both short term (immediately after the race) and long term (in the days following the race) is important in repairing bone and muscle damage and ultimately promote desired training adaptations. Also, consuming carbohydrates such as pasta can be good, as this helps replenish glycogen stores.
- Be careful not to overeat after a race as your stomach may be unable to process large amounts of food, due to intense exercise completed during the race.
Stretching – Everyone is different, some people stretch a lot; some stretch a very little.
- It is a very individual thing, so therefore stretch muscles you feel need stretching
- Research each stretch performed and carry out technique correctly
- Do not bounce or overstretch
- DO NOT stretch injured muscles (seek treatment)
- Seek advice if you don’t know how to stretch properly
Active Recovery – Active recovery is performing similar movements from the race in a more relaxed fashion and for shorter periods at first.
- Perform activities such as walking, swimming or yoga to get muscles moving without overexertion.
- Even if it is just a 5-10 minute walk the following day, with the goal of increasing mobility of working muscles and increasing blood flow to the damaged muscle fibres. This will improve recovery time, and have you back out there running sooner.
Treat Yourself – Reward your effort in training and celebrate your result.
- Share your achievement with friends
- Your treat doesn’t have to be of a monetary reward
- The treat could include a rest day, a pamper session, massage or trip to the hot springs
- Call your friends and supporters and celebrate your results
- Share achievements with others on Facebook or other forms of social media
*Mental Recharge – Training and preparation is not only hard on the body but it takes a strain on you mentally as well, so allow your body and your mind to reset.
- Do not plan to do another race within 3 – 4 weeks of your race, it gives your body and mind the best chance to absorb the training done and the race completed.
- You’ll be surprised on how much mental strain and stress you place on yourself, ‘I must get a complete every day of my training program’, ‘I must get a PB’ etc. It takes its toll on you and it can result in sickness and hampered performance. So let go after a race!
- You need to take a holistic approach to your recovery and consider your mind, body and spirit.
Reflection – Every race performance needs to be reflected upon in order to improve, successfully recover and to enjoy future endeavours.
- Once the emotions of the race have been settled whether positive or negative you are ready to reflect on your performance.
- Start breaking down the race in stages and look at both positive and negative aspects of the race, whether it be your emotional state, physical performance or the course. Look for areas in which you can improve or where things can be adjusted for a more enjoyable performance.
- Be honest! It is easy to make excuses for why you didn’t have a great race but ultimately you know within yourself what it takes to improve and be happy with your performance.
- Only when you have reflected on your performance honestly are you able to set new realistic goals and look at future races and events.
And remember it is not always about the end result of a race but the journey you took to get there. Enjoy every minute and celebrate each and every success.