No matter your distance, running can take a lot out of your body and mind. You must take care of yourself. In my running experience I have begun to build a post-race self-care kit. I am new to the world of long distance running and just learning about this myself. I have prioritized my personal list below to share with others.
1. Massage: Often times at long race events, there are free massages offered. Take advantage of this! The best thing for those tired muscles to avoid major cramping can sometimes be something as simple as a quick massage. I noticed a huge difference in my recovery when including massage! If possible, schedule yourself a longer massage about a week post-race!
2. Move: Don’t sit for too long, even if you have the urge. Your body can easily cramp and/or get sore and stiff. Walking helps loosen muscles and release the lactic acid. Post-race day go for a walk with a friend! I went shopping at the mall. Moving around decreases recovery time!
3. Stretch: For the obvious reasons At certain points after a long race you may feel too sore to stretch certain muscles, but try it anyway! Let the foam roller become your friend. It may be too painful initially after the race, but it helps! I had no issues with going up and down stairs after my second marathon because I stretched afterwards rather than wait several hours.
4. Clean: Get to a hot shower! The best feeling after 4 or 5 hours of running is washing off the sweat and feeling refreshed! The heat of the water pounding on your tired body assists in loosening muscles, often decreasing pain and stiffness! Hint: use your foam roller after the shower!
5. Warmth: Heat is your friend after a long run. Continue applying heat to your body after your shower with a heating pad. This was my lifesaver! I applied heat to my legs for several nights post-race and had less pain and stiffness. :)
6. Dry: My first marathon was with less than ideal weather conditions. It was pouring rain, windy, and very cold. The entire race I was freezing and wet. In addition to getting your muscles warm, it is also helpful to get as dry as you can post-race when it’s cold out. One issue from the cold, wet weather was suffering from cramping due to shivering Getting dry was helpful in decreasing discomfort from the cramping. Before the race, I would recommend mapping out a location to get dry and warm immediately post-race!
7. Food: EAT! Best soda I ever had was after my first marathon! Followed by the best banana I have ever had! These two items were helpful post-race, however I felt much less depleted after having some chicken noodle soup, freshly baked bread, and fruit that was provided at marathon number two. You need nourishment. Your body is in starvation mode by the end of the race. Have a plan to give it back some of what it lost immediately after you finish, but save a big meal for an hour or two later.
8. Rest: Take a few days off. If you are at the gym, it better be to see your friends or foam roll!
What is your race goal for Lucky 2013? Happy running,