“There is nothing better to start the new year than knowing that you have smashed two long races with your friends! Completing both Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon and the MacRitchie Runners 25 Ultra Marathon within a month was challenging, and a good post-race recovery plan is vital to reset my body to resume training for the next race.” – Cassandra Hie, UFIT Clinic Massage Therapist and ultra trail runner junkie who travels regularly for mountain trail races. She spends her days working with runners to get them feeling better before and after their races.
While everybody is gearing up for the Spartan Race this weekend, Cassandra shares 5 useful tips that would help even the most hardened Spartan recover for the next challenge.
1. Light Walking and Stretches
It would be very tempting to lay on the floor after a gruelling marathon or obstacle course, however, resist the urge as doing so can cause the muscles to tighten and stiffen up, and not to mention that this is not very Spartan-like behaviour! A light walk for 5 to 10 minutes followed by these cool down stretches will help to re-establish the warrior that you are and will go a long way to ease sore muscles.
a) Quads (front of thighs) and Hamstring (back of thighs) stretch
Reduce tension and helps muscles to relax
Hold this stretch for about twenty seconds
Repeat with the other side
Avoid stretching past discomfort or you will risk tearing a muscle. Flexibility will improve with continuous stretching
b) Tricep (back of upper arm) and Shoulder stretch
Though they are not as stressed as the legs, they do get tensed after a few hours of running
Relaxes overall upper body
Hold this stretch for about twenty seconds and repeat with the other arm
2. Drink Up!
Everyone is constantly mindful of staying hydrated and drinking enough water before a race, but this mental note sometimes goes out the window following an exhausting race. Replace those fluids after the race to prevent dehydration and blackout, as you would want to be in the best condition to enjoy the spoils of your labour! Isotonic drinks are another viable option as they replenish electrolytes and the salt and sugar combination helps ignite the recovery process.
3. Fuel Up!
You have completed the race and have done most of the hard part! Much like how you have replenished lost fluids, now is the time to fuel your body with the right foods. If, like many, you find it hard to eat anything for the first hour or two, have a bowl of soup or protein bars to kickstart the process of restoring the carbohydrates in your body. A protein-rich meal about an hour after will be helpful for muscle repair.
4. Elevating your Feet
It is no surprise that your feet and legs would be sore when you get home, you have just completed a long race, so that is perfectly normal. A common remedy such as elevating your legs on a pillow will help to reduce swelling and shorten the recovery time.
5. Sports Massage
While some may prefer foam-rolling, I personally prefer to go for a much-needed sports massage which speeds up the recovery process. A professional would be able to iron out the kinks more effectively to ensure efficient recovery pre- and post-race.
Benefits of getting a Sports Massage before and after a race:
Minimise muscle tension
Better recovery after physical activities
Prevent injuries and reduce pain
On the third day after a major race, a short and slow recovery run is highly recommended to get your body back up to speed right before you go back to your regular running routine!
So, get out there and give your best this weekend and give these tips a try to improve your post-race recovery!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cassandra Hie is an avid ultra trail runner who travels regularly for mountain races and firmly believes that everyone, athletes or not, can benefit from a sports massage.
Prior to being a certified Sports Massage therapist at UFIT Clinic, Cassandra spent 20 years working in marketing before making the career switch to pursue her passion in helping clients feel and perform better.