Recover After Racing: 6 Easy Tips for Recovery

Coach Casey · April 27, 2020

Whether you’re competing consistently in virtual races during these social-distancing times, or planning for the eventual return to the road when IRL races begin again, you’ve got to know how to take care of yourself and recover after racing. As we say, what you do after a run or race is as important as what you do during it! Take a few tips from the experts here. Charge coaches have been through it all, the good and the bad when it comes to racing and recover. Learn key tips to recovering after a race from those who know it best!

6 Keys to Successfully Recover After Racing!

Hydrating properly is a key to recovery after racing

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Immediately following your race completion and even more importantly for 24-48 hours after your race, be sure to focus on your hydration. Don’t gorge on water as soon as you cross the finish line, no matter how tempting that may be. In the first hour post-race cap your consumption at 24-32oz of water. Then keep a consistent stream of hydration going for the next few days. Putting the most emphasis on water is best, however, mixing in the occasional electrolyte/carb-rich beverage is fine as well. In order to speed up your muscle recovery and help repair some of those muscle micro-tears be sure to increase your consumption of Vitamin C during the 48 hours following your race. 

Post-race beer? Sure! In moderation a celebratory beer or two can be what your body needs.  

2. Refuel, Restock, and Repair

Immediately following a race you’ll want to get about 300 calories back into your system within 45 minutes. This should be primarily (80%) carbohydrates and 20% protein to restock those glycogen stores. For the remainder of the day, and the day following, you’ll need to promote muscle recovery with high-protein snacks (20-30 grams), balanced macronutrients, and hearty carbohydrates. Having a plan and doing some meal prep pre-race is a great idea. You’d be surprised how little motivation there is to cook after you’ve just put your body through a race. Or, do as I do and have someone else cook for you. Go out to eat and let a professional chef take care of you. Treat yo’ self! You deserve it! 

3. Engage in LIGHT aerobic exercise

While there’s definitely the urge to spend the day following a race with your legs propped up on the couch binging Netflix, it’s important to get out for some light, low-impact aerobic exercise. To recover after racing pay attention to the key word “light.” A long casual walk, an easy bike ride, or even a bit of light work on an elliptical is perfect. As so expertly and simply stated by Jeff Galloway, “just keep the legs moving.” Even just 30-60 minutes of some easy aerobic work will keep your legs from getting too stiff and tight during that first 24 hours. 

4. CELEBRATE! Put your mind at ease

Even if the race didn’t go exactly to plan, allow yourself the chance to celebrate and revel in your accomplishments! It’s important to pat yourself on the back a bit and be proud. Let that ego flourish a bit! Equally as important is to not block out or deny any negative feelings you have about the race. Instead, learn from them and turn them into adjustments for the future. As I like to say, it’s not what you did wrong, it’s what you’re going to do differently next time! The post-race blues are a real thing but it’s essential that you take them in stride and keep your positive momentum moving forward.

Stretching is just one of many ways you can help your body recover after racing

5. Decrease post-race soreness and tightness

If you have the time and means, absolutely take advantage of a professional massage. It’ll be worth it! However, in a pinch, a textured foam roller, an R8 Recovery, or a massage gun are great at-home options. Having these tools at your disposal can make all the difference in your quest to recover after racing.

The debate rages about the benefits for runners of heating or cooling your legs, in this case though “be cool!” Soaking your legs in a cold (does not have to be frigid) bath or tub for 15-20 minutes after your race will soothe your muscles. It slows the rate of inflammation and reduces any risks of tissue damage. All good things after a race!  

6. Rest, sleep, and then set your sights ahead!

Give your body and mind a well-deserved rest for 1-3 days (maybe even up to a week). Your aerobic condition and fitness will NOT collapse due to a few days of no running, I promise. While you may have trouble sleeping the night after a hard, intoxicatingly fun race, take steps to sleep as well as possible. Let yourself become refreshed, recovered, and reset. Then, it’s time to push on and set your sights on the future. What’s next? Which race will you crush next? What future goals do you have and how are you going to reach them? No matter what, don’t lose that drive and fire. Can’t stop, won’t stop!

Train, race, AND recover with the help of certified, professional coaches. Get all the advice and encouragement you need during all stages of your running journey with Charge Running. Join today!

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