Race Recovery | The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC


Congratulations!!!! You’ve just completed your first 5k or 10k – very likely the Ghostly Gallop – and you are basking in the post-run glow.  What you do in the minutes, hours and days post race can make a huge difference in how you will feel.  Race recovery is as important to your training and the training plan itself.

Now, I know the race was yesterday so you’ve missed your chance to complete a few of these. Just hit that “favorite” tab in your reader so you can refer to this list when you are gearing up for your next race.

Immediately after the race

  • Keep moving. Walk around for at least 10-15 minutes.  Do some gentle stretching.   I know you’re tired, but plopping down on the curb is a recipe for disaster.  I’ve been know to ask total strangers to help me up when I’ve gotten stuck down there.
  • Refuel.  Hopefully you are at a race with good post-race spread.  Grab some water.  Eat a light snack with a good mix of carbs, protein, and fats 30-60 minutes after finishing.  Chocolate milk is an excellent choice.  Other options might be a banana and a piece of toast with peanut butter.  If you are like me and your body can’t handle a lot of solid food right after a hard race, try the chocolate milk.
  • Compression.  Many runners swear by the use of compression socks or sleeves to speed recovery.  Take advantage of the free post-race massage if your race offered one.
  • Ice.  The ice bath, while horrifying to many, really does wonders.  Even sitting in a tub of cold water from the tap can help reduce inflammation/swelling and then as the tissue rewarms, increased bloodflow to the area speed healing. Here’s a good article on ice bath do’s and don’t’s.

The week after the race

  • Rest.  You’ve earned a few days off from hard core training.
  • Active recovery is good.  I tend to be less sore if I move the day after a long run or race.  Go for a walk or an easy bike ride.  If you are a very fit runner, a short 1-2 mile EASY jog would also probably be ok.
  • The general rule of thumb is that how ever many miles your race, you should take that many days off from hard training.  For a 5k – 3 days should be sufficient.  For a 10k – maybe take a week.  If you’ve just run a marathon, take it easy for the next 3-4 weeks.  You can certainly run if you feel up to it (and you did not finish the race injured), but no speed work, hill training, etc. EASY RUNS.
  • Reflect.  Look back at your race and see what worked well.  What didn’t work.  Did that chocolate gu make you sick?  Keep a log so you know not to use that flavor again.  Were those Swedish Fish the best fuel ever?  Make a note.  Did you decide not to carry your own water?  How did that affect you (I’ve had both disasters and success with this).
  • Deal with your feelings.  It isn’t uncommon to feel a little lost or a little down after finishing a big race.  You’ve lived your life by a training plan for the past 9 to 16 weeks and now your calendar is empty.  Coming from one training obsessed runner to another, it’s normal to experience some post-race blues.  If your race didn’t go quite as planned, be prepared to deal with this as well.  Go ahead and be upset, but don’t dwell. We all have bad runs sometimes, it just really sucks when they happen on race day.  Whether your experience was good or bad, take a couple days before you make any major future-race decisions.
  • CELEBRATE!!!! You’ve just devoted many weeks to training and you’ve completed your goal!  Be proud of yourself.  No one can take that sense of accomplishment away from you.

Did you complete the Shrinking Jeans Ghostly Gallop?  If you did and you blog – make sure you write a race report.  We will be asking for you to link up reports in a future post – so be ready!!  Your sisters (and brothers) here are very proud of you!!

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