Last week I talked about Race Preparation: The Week Leading Up To Your Race and Race Preparation: The Last Two Days Before Your Race, so I thought that today I would talk about Race Recovery.

As soon as you finish your race, grab a water bottle and keep walking around to let your legs cool down.  If it’s a cool day and you’re wearing shorts, walk to packet pick-up to get your bag and put on long pants and a jacket as soon as you can.  If you’re meeting friends after the race, walk to your meeting point.  Basically, do anything that keeps you walking around for at least 10-20 minutes.  Continuing to move your legs will help prevent lactic acid build up and will help keep those overused muscles from cramping.

Once you’ve allowed for an appropriate cool down, find a place to sit, stretch, and even put your legs up.  If massages are available, your legs will thank you for taking the time to get a quick rub down.

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Cruisers relaxing post 2002 Marine Corps Marathon

Make sure to have a bag or two of ice ready in your refrigerator, and if you’re up to it, fill your tub with cold water and ice just deep enough to cover your legs when you sit down in the tub.  I always wear a sweatshirt and pool shoes to try to keep somewhat warm.

After your ice bath and shower, take a well deserved nap if you want.  You earned it!  🙂  Plan a relaxing dinner with friends and celebrate your accomplishments.  Continue to eat high carb foods for a couple of days and be sure to add some protein to aid in muscle recovery.

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Cruisers enjoying dinner after 2010 Marine Corps Marathon

I like to take a few days to a week off from running after my marathons.  Consider this a great opportunity to take walks with your non-running friends!  If you’re new to running and this was your first race, get back into the swing of things quickly or you might stop your healthy workout habit.  Find a fun 5K or 10K a few months away so you’ll have a new goal to work toward.  Lift weights to get stronger in the off season, and consider taking yoga to increase your flexibility.

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Jerome in Warrior pose at Red Rock Canyon

And of course, try to find a cool group of runners like the Cruisers to join for weekend runs.  Not only will it help keep you focused, but it will add a whole new level of fun to your running!

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Cruisers celebrating five years together in 2011

  • Questions:
  • How many days do you allow after your marathon before you run again?
  • Have you ever taken an ice bath after a long run or race?
  • What’s your favorite race recovery tip?
Happy Running! ~ Deb