If you want to get back to training after a race, post-training and race recovery should be the most important part of your training program. However, it’s important to be smart and avoid adding too many miles back in too quickly without allowing your body to recover fully, which can lead to injury, increased fatigue, and slower race times in your next adventure. Here are my top recovery practices in order of priority:
- Nutrition: Refuel immediately after your workout with a combination of protein and carbs to rebuild and restore glycogen stores. Protein synthesis can continue long after your workout if you refuel properly. I recommend having both pre- during and post-workout fuel prepared.
- Sleep: Being disciplined about your bedtime can make a huge impact on your training. Lights out at the same time each night, I recommend no later than 10:00 pm can help you feel more restored and ready to hit the pool, trainer, or treadmill (or outside). Research suggests taking a quick 10-20 minute nap can also leave you feeling more energized and alert.
- Active Recovery: Light short activity, like easy swim, spin or walk, after your race, helps keep blood moving through your muscles.
- Yoga and Stretching: Stretching out your entire body by doing yoga every evening can help improve your recovery.
- Foam Rolling: Applying pressure to knotted areas with a foam roller can help release the muscle from the layer of fascia, boost circulation, and help you get your range of motion back.
- Hot and Ice Baths: While there is conflicting research on their effectiveness, hot and ice baths can feel great and potentially aid in recovery. Sitting in a bath for a minimum of 15 minutes with 2 X 10-pound bags of ice after a long or intense event can be helpful.
- Bodywork: Physical Therapy, Acupuncture, Massage, and Chiropractic can provide relief from soreness and injuries. Muscle activation technique, acupuncture, and Active Release Technique are some examples of these practices.
- Compression: Some athletes opt for compression to help accelerate the recovery process. Recent research shows that these tight garments can accelerate lactate clearance from muscle tissue. Socks, tights, and sleeves are common forms of compression wear.
- Recovery Boots: These can provide relief and aid in recovery, but their effectiveness is not clear and may vary from person to person.
Remember to prioritize post-training and race recovery to get back to doing what you love to do, training!
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