Race day arrives. The months and weeks of planning and preparation come to fruition. Some days we meet our goals, some days we fall short, but no matter the outcome, the plan can’t end at the finish line. Follow three post-race rules and you’ll be on your way to the perfect recovery.
- Celebrate! You’ve worked long and hard, enjoy great company, great beverages and some great food. If you’ve been depriving yourself of those nachos, or maybe those burger and fries, now is the time to dig in and go for it. I have a ritualistic pilgrimage to In-n-Out Burger for a Double Double, or if I’m feeling daring, I go for a “4×4 Animal Style”, Ryan opts for the ”Animal Style” Fries – if you have a few thousand calories to spare, give them a shot).
- Say no to the hot tub and yes to the ice bath. I know, the hot tubs feel good, the ice tub doesn’t. My former coach had a rule, no hot tubs until Wednesday. He was a doctor so we should heed his advice. After races our bodies are inflamed and beat up. Sitting in a hot tub may feel good but it’s only adding to the inflammation and prolonging recovery. At races, most of us stay in hotels. My advice: Give one of the fine hotel workers $10 to fill your bathtub halfway with ice. Top ‘er off with some cold water and take the plunge for 10-15 minutes. The first 4 minutes is horrible, after that it’s gravy. Give it a shot, your legs will thank you.
- Run 1-3 easy miles the day after the race… then take 2 weeks off. The run serves as a system check. If you can’t run, walk. Pay attention to little tweaks and pains so you can spend the next 2 weeks rehabbing the injury. Don’t underestimate the beating you took out there between the curbs. When muscle or heart cells are damaged, creatine kinase (CK), levels rise in the blood. After marathons, CK levels in runners are similar to those who have experienced a heart attack. Our bodies need time to repair. Take the time off, recover. It’s best for your body and best for your head. When the time comes to return to the grind, you’ll be ready.