Breasting the tape at the finish line is not the end of your race experience. Post-race recovery should be incorporated into your holistic training plan to help your body repair itself faster and keep it fine-tuned for optimal performance. But some runners do overlook this aspect and end up coping with prolonged – and unnecessary – pain. Try these tips to help your muscles recover better from your race-day exertions, whether it’s a marathon or a 10km race.
A study by the International Society of Sport Nutrition found that runners need to eat more protein, not calories. To regenerate and rebuild muscles after a workout, eating sufficient protein could help prevent injury and strengthen the immune system.
Runners know they need carbs post-run to rebuild their glycogen stores, but a recent study suggests caffeine may also enhance recovery. Cyclists rode hard for two consecutive days to drain their glycogen stores. They then drank a carb beverage with or without caffeine. Researchers found that having a drink with caffeine rebuilds glycogen stores 66 per cent more than a carb-only drink.
Active rest, or doing some form of activity on your rest day is akin to doing a light jog (as opposed to walking) in between interval runs. You’re obviously not going to go full-force with a hardcore workout, so scale down your efforts.
If you unfortunately suffered a strain or minor muscle pull during the course of the run, remember rest, ice, compression and elevation. It’s crucial you remember the elevation part – keeping the injured area above the level of your heart, and head, will help minimise the swelling.