Hope you had fun in the race. That last mile is brutal, right? Here are a few considerations to improve your recovery.
- Active recovery. At a minimum, go for a short walk. It can be slow and relaxed. If you are more experienced, going for a short run isn’t out of the question, of course. Going for a swim is a great choice too. Anyone with at least a couple months of training under their belt will feel better having performed active recovery - if it’s done correctly. It will take at least 10 minutes of activity to get to that point though.
- Avoid anti-inflammatory drugs. Inflammation gets a bad reputation because it’s usually accompanied by discomfort. But you need those processes to heal properly! Let your body do what it is meant to do in recovering from muscle soreness. Besides, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories are actually not very effective at improving the discomfort associated with delayed onset muscle soreness.
- Ice anything that seems like a new injury. Yes, inflammation has a good side. But a true new injury (besides muscle soreness) can have a little too much of that inflammation. Ice is nice to be able to spot treat anything that has flared up without having the systemic effects of medication. Ice now so these areas are not still an issue in three days.
- Regain normal hydration levels. It was hot and humid, so there is no doubt that you lost more fluid than you took in. Your urine shouldn’t be dark in color. It should be more like the color of a light beer. Drink 6-8 ounces of plain water every hour until you have achieved that level of hydration. If you have gastrointestinal discomfort at this point, then there’s a really high chance that your hydration levels are off.
- Gently perform muscle self-massage. Use a foam roller, massage stick, tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or even a rolling pin from your kitchen to roll up and down the full length of the thighs and lower legs. It doesn’t have to be highly uncomfortable but a little tenderness is fine. Try for 30 strokes on every side.
- Take a nap. Sleep is a great recovery method. The weather stinks today anyway. If you feel fatigued or drained then take advantage of a quick nap to boost your endocrine system’s output of healing hormones.