Brecon Carreg’s top tips for recovering after a race
People often devote plenty of time thinking about training before a big race or event, but fail to make adequate plans for recovery, other than heading to the nearest food and drink outlet.
We had a chat with the lovely people from healthy foodies, Feastful and fitness fanatics, Iach to get their insights into the best ways to recover after a race such as the Cardiff Half Marathon.
They have outlined their top tips to aid recovery below:
Immediately after the event
- Rehydrate – Of course, it’s essential to rehydrate your body after any period of exercise, but especially activity where you’ve lost a lot of fluid through perspiration. We’ll provide plenty of water for you at the event, so make the most of it! If you have been active for an extended period of time, you will also need to replenish your salt and electrolyte levels, which can be replaced with a sports drink but don’t overindulge.
You may fancy an alcoholic drink but this could actually hinder recovery, so stick to the Brecon Carreg rule of one alcoholic drink followed by a glass of water in order to keep hydrated.
- Keep walking – You may not feel like it, but it is essential that you keep moving after you have finished the run. Your body needs to gradually warm down to avoid storing lactic acid in your muscles. A build up of lactic acid prevents glucose being broken down into energy, which will prevent or slow down muscle recovery. Gradually decreasing activity allows oxygen to return to the affected areas and will help with recovery.
Try to keep walking at a gentle pace for 20-30 minutes after a race, even if it is to the nearest food provider.
- Eat – As keen as you may be to run (or hobble) to the nearest fast food outlet and scoff down a burger or two, this won’t help you in the long run. Your post race meal needs to consist of a few key food groups – protein to rebuild muscles and carbs to replace energy. Foods rich in vitamin C, such as kiwifruit will also help to flush out any remaining lactic acid in your muscles. Fruit and vegetables also have a high water content that will help towards that all important hydration.
- Gentle Massage – Having a gentle massage immediately after your race will help to relieve muscle pain and stiffness. Just make sure it’s not too rigorous, otherwise you could be doing yourself more harm than good.
- Ice bath – A recovery used by the brave, an ice bath can constrict blood vessels and decrease metabolic activity which will help to reduce swelling and tissue breakdown. Jump into the bath and soak for about 15-20 minutes – or as long as you can handle it! You don’t necessarily have to use ice, cold water will do.
A little while after…
No one expects to recover from a race the same day, you will probably be aching more in the days following the race, and regretting every single step you took. Here are a few more hints about how you can ease those aching muscles.
- Keep hydrated – We may bang on about it, but you’ll be surprised at how much hydration can impact your overall wellbeing. For starters, being adequately hydrated has been proven to help with energy levels and hunger. The recommended daily intake of water is 2L for women and 2.5L for men. This may seem a lot but keep one of our 500ml bottles near you throughout the day and it’s easy to reach this target.
- Rest – The most important thing to do to aid recovery is rest. Your body can only effectively recover when you allow it to. Avoid any intense activity for the next few days – not that you’d necessarily want to do anything!
- Continue to eat well – Even days after the event, you will need to continue to replenish the nutrients lost. A diet of a wide variety of foods will help, but be sure to include protein to aid muscle repair and carbohydrates to boost energy levels. Vitamin C will help to boost your immune system (even that takes a hit after an intense workout) and healthy fats are essential for restoring your body to its pre-race form.
- Deep Tissue Massage – This wouldn’t have been suitable immediately after your race as your muscles would have have been too tender and it could have done more damage than good. A few days after the race however, when your muscles are really sore and stiff, this will make the world of difference. A word to the wise – this will definitely hurt!
Follow these tips and you’ll feel good as new! What’s your next challenge?