Research tells us that we should pay just as much attention to our post-race/post-competition routines as we do to our pre-race/pre-competition routines. Why is this? Simply stated, the sooner you return your body to its pre-competition state and give it the attention it requires to recoup later the same day, the sooner you will be ready for more hard training. It also helps reduce stiffness and soreness that may occur later in the day.
Your muscles are most receptive to refueling and other recovery strategies for the first 30-60 minutes after strenuous exertion. While this is often easy to remember after an intense workout, it is often forgotten in our competition planning. So what can be a good recovery plan? The following strategies were recommended in a recent article in the SIRC Collection:
- Immediately post-competition/race, have some sport drink or other easily tolerated source of calories before starting a cool-down jog.
- After cooling down, refuel further with food and drink you brought to the race. This food can be specifically targeted to your body’s needs as opposed to relying on whatever offerings the event has provided.
- Do some gentle stretching before and after driving home.
- Later that day do a light aerobic workout, followed by more stretching.
So next time the competition heats up, don’t forget to plan for the appropriate cool down afterwards.
Reference: Fraioli, Mario (2010). Post-Race Recovery. Goal: Recover Quickly From Your Morning Road Race. Running Times (373), 21.