No matter whether you’ve just completed a marathon or a mud run, to help you treat your body to some much-needed TLC and minimise post-race soreness, I’ve put together some of my top recovery rituals for you below.
Once you’ve crossed the finish line, the first thing you probably want to do is drop to your knees and thank god you’ve made it, but try to resist the temptation! After asking your body to run so far, it’s important to give it a transitory phrase (think walking around for a good 15-20 minutes) so that your heart rate can to return to its resting state and lactic acid can be flushed from your muscles.
Your muscles need to recover, and you need to give them the fuel to do so. Eating a snack of carbohydrate and protein in the first 30-60 minutes post-race will give your body the energy it needs to kick-start the recovery process. If you struggle to eat solid foods in the immediate period after running, then try a recovery liquid instead – your muscles will thank you!
The day after:
Try a nice long soak with Epsom salts*. My granny has been a huge fan of these for years. When dissolved in water, Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin, and helps replenish the body’s magnesium levels. Paired with a warm bath, it’s the perfect recipe for easing stress and helping relax muscles.
Take a break
If there’s a day you’re allowed to get the lift instead of the stairs, it’s today. Muscle damage after your physical exertion will be high so it’s a good idea to keep your life simple and avoid having to cover excessive distances or stairs to climb. It’s also a good idea not to run too soon after the big event – it will only serve to aggravate any existing soreness. Instead, take the day to celebrate your achievement and do some light walking and stretching.
The following week:
Test the waters
Waiting at least 7 days before you exercise again is a smart move, as it allows your body to recover fully. There’s no hard and fast rule though, and you may feel some light exercise would be beneficial. If so, swimming is fantastic way to re-introduce your body to training – it boosts circulation and uses your muscles without putting them under too much stress.
Stretch it out
Yoga is also a great shout for active recovery, so get that mat out. One of the poses I love to do to help run-weary legs regain their mojo is the super-simple yet deeply relaxing ‘Legs Up the Wall’. Simply swing your legs up the wall then shimmy your bum as close to the wall as is comfortably possible. Place a pillow under your head for comfort if needed and hold the position for 5-10 minutes while breathing slowly and rhythmically.
Just remember to start light then build up from there. After all, slow and steady wins the race!
*Pregnant women and people taking antibiotic or cardiac medications shouldn’t use Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) until cleared by a physician.