You just did 26.2 – congrats on making it to the finish line. Whether it was your first or your 51st, make sure you know what to do to take care of the body that just carried you all those miles.
Immediately Following Your Race
- Walk it off: Even though you might not want to run another step, make sure you cool down slowly. Coming to a dead stop after running a long distance can make recovery even more painful. Jog for a few minutes, and then transition to a walk.
- Stretch: Gently stretch your muscles while you finish cooling down. This can help to ease muscle tightness and prevent injury.
- Change: As soon as you’re done with your race, change into some warm, dry clothes to prevent getting clammy and chilled. This will also help keep your muscles from cooling down too quickly.
- Start sipping: After a long race, it’s important to replenish what your body has lost. If it’s hard to think of food at this point, opt for a recovery drink that has carbs, protein and electrolytes. Gauge your level of hydration based on the color of your urine. Urine should be a very light yellow (think lemonade). If it’s darker than that, you need more fluids. If it’s lighter, ease up on the fluid intake to avoid overhydrating.
Two Hours After Your Race
- Massage: Treat yourself to a massage from a pro, or try some self-massage to help your muscles recover. Check out the benefits of self-massage here.
- Nibble: Although you likely won’t feel hungry enough for a real meal yet, try snacking on something small to help refuel your system. Our peanut butter energy bites can provide some quick calories post-race.
Six to Twelve Hours After Your Race
- Chow down: You’re probably going to be pretty ravenous at this point, and you definitely earned that hunger. Avoid fast food and give your body something with high nutritional quality, like lean meat and steamed veggies with wild rice.
- Move around: To avoid stiffness, make sure you get up and walk around for about ten minutes every hour or two for the day following your race.
- Sleep: Get plenty of rest so that your body can put the food you ate to good use. Make sure you have a dark, quiet place to sleep, even if you’re away from home.
Seven to Ten Days After Your Race
- Recover actively: For the first week to week-and-a-half following your race, try no-impact cross training activities to actively recover. Swimming and cycling are both great options. Just make sure to listen to your body, and if it feels like you’re pushing too hard, ease up. You’ll have plenty of time to train hard again soon, and recovering from your race effort should be priority number one.