Race Recovery

Race Recovery

Hi, seems like we have quite a few people here who are active runners. I am participating in my first half marathon next month. I'm really excited about it and I've done ALOT of prep to get ready for it. Months of training, working on things like stride, finding the right running shoe, and getting my pacing and endurance up. However what I am not as prepped on is the recovery portion. Right now I am stretching after running and drinking plenty of water/Gatorade to rehydrate but I feel like there should be more to do? Anyone here that has experience with this? Can share your tips with me?


Re: Race Recovery

As a recovering runner with hamstring and IT band injuries there is nothing more helpful for me then rolling. If you are unfamiliar with it, watch this short video for IT band rolling. 



This is a great (and cheap) tool to release any muscle and band that is tight. I need to do this after every run, but really it would be good to do every day if you sit a lot for work.


I also prefer to take a hot bath with epsom salt to replenish skin and muscles.

Re: Race Recovery

My son's cross-country coach tells his runners to drink chocolate milk within an hour after a workout. A nutrition specialist shared the same tip with us Transamerica employees earlier today. She said chocolate milk has the right mix of carbs and protein. I've been drinking 12-16 ounces of chocolate milk after long runs, and it seems to be working pretty well. Plus, it's tasty.


The Rock 'n' Roll Series also posted some suggestions.


Good luck next month! See you at the finish line!

Re: Race Recovery

Chocolate milk is a great choice within that 30-45 min window, or any other recovery drink you prefer.


Stretching and hydration is always key. If you're feeling tired the day after your long run (more than just your legs) your body is likely telling you to go to bed earlier. Don't underestimate how valuable sleep is in recovery. 


A walk the evening after the race as well as the next morning will also pay dividends. After a long race I'll elevate my feet the evening after the race, and get moving the next morning with more stretching and hydration. 


If you've trained well so far, and it sounds like you have (congrats!) it's all about enjoying the day. A half-marathon is a big deal - have fun and give yourself the freedom to enjoy the race!

Re: Race Recovery

Agree on the foam roller. Big help for me on calves and IT bands. 

Re: Race Recovery

First of all CONGRATS on deciding to undertake this new personal challenge; I hope you find the entire journey to the finish line to be an amazing one.


Now all things being equal, your Q is one of many loaded questions to make the rounds of the active lifestyle circle; and subsequently difficult to nearly impossible to provide an answer to cover all people and scenarios. The best advice I have ever had came from Dr. Alan Lim (a sports physiologist, cycling coach, and a founder of Skratch Labs): don't ever take fitness advice as gospel, instead experiment with different applications until you find the right fit for you. 


The take away here is his reference to "you" as an organism and each one of us are unique (not special snowflakes unique) in how our body and mind react to stimulus. I suggest you take a moment to document everything you currently do post workout and note how it makes you feel 1-hour later; the next morning; the next workout. Until you have "your system" it would be a good idea to have a journal of activities and feelings (insert Dear Dairy jokes here) to get a sense of what you are doing and any gaps or areas to address. Every workout has some element of immediate and secondary recovery...and "recovery" on its own has broad interpretations. I know, I know....lots of words and very little advice yet, so here goes:


What has worked for me after a big effort (1.5 - 12 hours continuous exercise avg HRM >70%):

  • Eat protein and carbohydrate blend within 1 hour after; a bowl the size of your closed fist is a good gauge to start with...this will begin the process of glycogen replenishment and muscle tissue (re)generation. [NOTE: it helps to know your specific metabolic burn rate during the effort along with calories consumed to calculate the required portion size]
  • Replenish hydration and electrolyte levels until back to "normal"; drink water if you feel thirsty and add sodium/potassium if muscles have spasms and/or cramps...this is the step to get you back to stasis before an in depth physical self-evaluation can be performed
  • Muscle manipulation active and relaxive (follows hydration/electrolyte phase) using trigger point GRID roller (active) localized on tight areas requiring manual release to offset body imbalance followed by foam roller (relaxive) across broad muscle groups used during effort.
  • Monitor heart rate by relaxing and getting off of your feet and doing nothing for as long as your can...the more you can devote to the step the better. [NOTE: if you do not have a chest strap HRM you should get one ASAP; wrist based pulse rate has not been proven accurate yet]
  • Next day active and passive recovery depending on objectives. Active can be as simple as going for a gentle walk to doing 50% of the time & distance & effort from the day prior. Passive includes more relaxation time based upon an elevated heart rate relative to recovery time.

Your diet, sleep pattern/duration, stress, and mood will all play a part in the recovery process...mix up the formula until you find what you need to feel refreshed and ready to do it again.  Don't worry about making mistakes as they will happen, learn from each combination and keep trying. And don't forget to smile as you cross the finish line...savor the moment as you earned it.

Re: Race Recovery

The most important to me is make sure I get something in my body ASAP! The longer I wait the worse I feel in a few hours. Post race I will grab a chocolate milk and a banana while I stretch/cool down, and then I will finish off with a cold beer (because I deserved it, right?!).


Good luck with your race!



Re: Race Recovery

All of these methods work, but I especially relate to this one. When I run long distances, I sometimes become ravenously hungry, even more so than thirsty. The chocolate milk tip is a fairly new one to me, too, and I found it to be very effective. 

Re: Race Recovery

A good recovery method that I have found through the years is chocolate milk, as noted from others above as well as eating a banana and drinking water. Your muscles are sore from the build up of lactic acid which is depriving them from the normal aerobic process that is involved in energy utilization. By "uptaking" electrolytes, potassium , sugar, and protein, you are more or less "unlocking" the parts of cellular aspiration that use these minerals to help our cells recover and rejuvenate.

Foam rollers help stretch out our tendons and other muscles which help break down the blockage of blood flow and accordingly increase oxygen flow.

Studies have shown that taking a cold shower after intense workouts help increase recovery as well. As a "stressor" to your body  your body's reaction is to stimulate blood flow and increases synaptic responses to muscles in organs in a sort of "survival mode". Elevated heart rate will increase the blood and oxygen flow letting your body and muscles deplete the lactic acid being built up in them.  

Re: Race Recovery

good way to get the safest tips