With the Virgin London Marathon just around the corner and a whole host of other running, cycling and obstacle course races about to kick off its time to think about how best to look after our bodies AFTER the event, there is a lot of information and training programmes out there to help you prepare for the event but what about after….
You have put in the months of training, you have crossed the finish line now surely all you need to worry about is the beer or cake you have promised yourself as a treat, right? Wrong. How you treat your body after an event is just as important as preparing for it.
Here are my top tips in helping your body recover to its best.
After the race, it is likely that you will not feel hungry but it is important to make yourself eat / drink something to help restore your glycogen stores that kick start the recovery process. Ideally you want to try and have something within 15-30 mins of finishing. My personal favourite is a banana and some chocolate milk as both are easy to consume when you have little energy and appetite but have exactly what your body needs.
When you have your main meal after make sure it has lots of protein and carbs to give your body what it needs to restore muscle health.
You may feel like your legs have gotten you through enough miles, but aim to have a 10-15- minute walk as soon as you finish as this will help the circulation in your leg muscles. For the next 24 hours try to move as much as possible, nothing strenuous just gentle walking will do the job.
If you are lucky enough to be doing a race by the sea or a lake then this is the perfect opportunity to go for a quick dip after, if not, many events provide ice baths (if you can bear the queue!) These will help aid your recovery by constricting blood vessels, reduce swelling and tissue breakdown, aim to stay in the cold water for 8-10 minutes. If no ice baths are available create your own when you get home or a cold shower will be just as effective.
Massage after the event is very beneficial, most events these days provide massage at the venue which is well worth the queueing, this will just be a light 10-15-minute massage with the aim to flush out the lactic acid build-up, reduce post-exercise soreness and re-establish range of motion and blood flow to tight muscles.
Book yourself in for a sports massage 48 hours after the event as this is when the therapist can start working with you on any injuries, aches or pains you have picked up by working deep into the muscles to ease out any knots, restore any damage to muscle, stretch out individual muscles to improve the range of motion. This will help ease those miles out of your legs getting you back out doing what you love sooner.
Your body recovers while you sleep so be sure to get an early night after the event – aim for 8 hours of sleep.
6. ENJOY YOUR ACHIEVEMENT
You have worked hard and you have achieved something amazing so hang the medal around your neck with pride and celebrate with friends and family!! (maybe even book yourself onto your next event!)