7 Post-Race Recovery Tips For Runners

7 Post-Race Recovery Tips For Runners

Congratulations! You just finished your race, but now that your run is done, don't forget to make sure you have a good post-race recovery plan in place. From rehydration to light massage, find out about seven things you can do to help your body bounce back after crossing the finish line. 

  1. Cool it down. As tempting as it may be, don't finish a long race, such as a half-marathon or marathon, and then sit down right away. One of the first post-race recovery tips you should apply is to walk or slowly jog to bring your heart rate down and start the muscle repair process. Try to cool down for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your level of fatigue.
  1. Rehydrate by replenishing minerals and electrolytes. Regardless of whether or not it's been a warm day or a cool day, you'll need to replenish your fluid intake as soon as possible after your race. Even though the outside air temperature may be cool, that doesn’t mean you haven't sweated out minerals and electrolytes. Water alone won't be enough, so be sure to use tablets, drops or powder that will help you replace lost minerals and electrolytes.
  1. Put on a pair of compression socks. Compression socks aren't just for Grandma. If you sport a pair of compression socks after a long run, they can help stimulate circulation and help your legs recover faster. When packing a pair of compression socks to wear after your race, just remember to bring along a pair that you've already broken in a few times.
  1. Consume lean protein within 15 to 30 minutes after a race to help rebuild muscle tissue. Focus on foods such as grilled chicken, salmon, Greek yogurt, egg whites, or a protein shake. It may also help to keep a few non-perishable snacks in your car like roasted nuts or a protein bar. If you've just finished a particularly challenging run, such as the Boston Marathon, keep your serving size limited to a tennis ball sized portion until your next meal. You don't want to overdo it and upset your stomach right after a long, tough run.
  1. Spend about a half hour doing a series of post-run stretches. Good stretches to work into your post-race recovery plan are quadriceps stretches, straight-leg calf stretches, hamstring stretches, hip flexor stretches, gluteal stretches, and butterfly stretches. It's also a great idea to invest in a foam roller to help encourage muscle recovery. Don't have an exercise mat along with you? No worries, just spread out your Run's Done sports towel seat cover on the grass while you stretch.
  1. Take a post-race recovery hot bath instead of a shower. Soak your legs in a hot bath to aid in relaxing and warming up your leg muscles. You may want to consider adding aromatherapy oils or bath salts as well, if they will help you relax from the stress of a long race.
  1. Make an appointment for a light massage. Studies published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that massage after exercise reduced the intensity of delayed onset muscle soreness. In addition, there is research that suggests massage improves immune function and reduces inflammation.

Once you implement your post-race recovery plan, you might be surprised by how quickly your body rewards you. As always, just remember to consult with your doctor or personal trainer when recovering from any major running event or physical fitness training activity.


Debbie Hanson is an award-winning freelance writer, blogger, and runner based in Estero, Florida. Her publishing credits include several outdoor-related web sites and magazines including USA Today. In addition to multiple 5K running events, she has completed the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon, Naples Daily News Half Marathon, and looks forward to tackling her first full marathon within the next two years.





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