I felt it was time to write this article because so many of my running clients ask me about what they should do AFTER their races for the best recovery possible. And it doesn’t matter what the length of the race was. These tips apply whether you’ve run a 5k, 10k, half marathon or full marathon.

So let’s talk about RECOVERY!

Two days after any race seems to be when most of us feel the EFFECTS of racing.

And even though the effects we feel are different for all of us, there are several things that you can do to ease the recovery process.

The general rule of thumb is that it takes about a day per race mile to fully recover. As an example, that means you should be very easy on yourself and in your training for about two weeks after a half marathon.

Even if you’re feeling good, I’d still suggest you don’t plan to run hard during this period.

Runners are often misled into thinking their bodies are fully recovered when their muscles are still healing. Be patient. Too many injuries occur during this time when runners hurry back to their training.

The most important thing to remember is that it is when we REST that we strengthen and recover, not when we run. After a run, the muscle tissue breaks down and rebuilds stronger and more nourished during this rest.

So give your muscles good things to replenish with. Eat well and hydrate well, too.

However, going out for a few easy shorter runs or walk/runs is a good idea. Get those legs moving a little and get some blood and oxygen to them to speed recovery. There is no pressure to perform now, so just enjoy moving, with no goal other than recovery in mind.

As painful as it may be, please do try to gently stretch out those tired muscles or use a roller stick on them. They will appreciate it and reward you with a quicker recovery. Staying hydrated with water and Gatorade or some form of electrolytes will also help. Remember: Keep moving!

Now is the time for the following recovery work done lying down. It’s from the Alexander Technique method.

Try lying down with a small book under your head, your knees up, feet on the floor, and your arms with elbows away and hands on your abdomen. Just lie there for 10 or 15 minutes, doing nothing, just thinking about letting go of any back and neck effort and tension. Do NOTHING!

Think the following directions: Release your over-stimulated back muscles and let go of those tight “reins” pulling on your head. Let your head-spine joints release. Let your jaw fall open. Let your back fall back, filling up with ease, widening and lengthening out of all that residual tension. Let your elbows and thumbs unwind away. Let your knees float up and your heels fall down towards the floor. Let out a quiet whispered “Ah!” on your exhales. (Each exhale allows your spine to return to its full extension.)

Repeat this process a few times a day over the next two weeks. Your recovering body will thank you!

Any other questions about race recovery and how best to do it? Be sure, to contact me.

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