The first week of the second month of 2017 is finished and many of my running buddies have done at least 1 if not 2 or more races by now and are basking in the spoils of accomplishment (medals or jackets anyone?). I knocked out Miami, albeit with a heap of rain and few margaritas, and lots of folks “laissez les bon temps rouler” in The Big Easy this past weekend. But when that excitement and euphoria have worn off, no matter how much we trained and how awesome some of us channel the superpowers of our cosplay heros, there comes a point when we get jelly legs and other post-race maladies.
How can you begin recovering from the race immediately, you ask?
- It seems counter-intuitive, because you’re beat and busted and just want to collapse into a pile of noodles somewhere, but KEEP WALKING for the next several minutes after the race.
- You might feel hungrier than you’ve ever been before so put some of those cool-down steps to use heading over to the recovery tent. As you eat, try to nibble and sip, scarfing and gulping could lead to an unwanted upset stomach, dampening the festivities.
- As you’re walking or when you feel ready to stop walking, start doing some light stretches to release the tension you’ve been building up for hours.
- It may not seem obvious, but change into dry clothes if you brought them. During the race, you’ll have heated up and sweated like you were sunning to the sun. As you cool down and are no longer racing, no matter what the weather conditions, you don’t want to catch the chills. That 65 degrees that were perfect while you were racing, will be your new worst enemy as you’re in cooling mode.
So, what about recovery days after the race? Will you have jelly legs forever? – No!
- The evening after the race, soak in a steaming bath to encourage muscles to relax and soften and to bring your mind to rest comfortably for a full night’s sleep. You may not have gotten enough sleep leading up to the race because nerves, so sleeping like a baby the night after the race is well deserved.
- The next day, take a shake out walk or trot of 10 – 20% of your race distance to prevent stiffening up. Alternatively, you can do some very light cross training, taking care not to push yourself too hard. Take it easy – your body has earned the right to measured rest.
- I’ve occasionally splurged on a nice massage after a full marathon. Your body, especially legs and glutes, will sing your praises for doing so.
- If a massage is not doable, spend some time with your frenemy, the foam roller. The love-hate relationship will be a bit more love than hate the day after a race.
- Eat nutrient and protein rich food and hydrate. You’ve depleted your stores during the race, so use the next few days to balance out your eating and drinking to get back on track.
- Worried about your circulation? Wear compression socks. Not only do I use mine for long distance air travel, but they work wonders for moderating circulation post-marathon. Nah, they’re not sexy and may get you some funny looks, but who cares when your legs feel that good!
- And finally, but possibly most importantly, Ahem, friends…. YOGA!!! And other things, of course, but you can’t deny the deliciousness of an easy vinyasa flow to show yourself some love.
You may take in a few more jelly donuts than you usually do, not an endorsement, just a judgement free observation, but there’s no need to suffer jelly legs indefinitely. The very best thing you can do for yourself, post-race, is to listen to what your body is telling you. Treat your body well and it will support you for a long time. 🙂