I did all of the above tips after I ran the 2013 NYC Marathon and I was pretty much back to normal after 3 days.
Walk around. Don’t sit. - I’ve learned this lesson the hard way by sitting down immediately after an 18 mile race. My legs cramped so bad that I had to hobble home. Don’t be me. Walk around for 10 - 15 minutes after you cross the finish line to keep your blood flowing. I use this time to check out post race activities and/or cheer on other runners.
Hydrate - I think this is a no brainer. You’ve lost a lot of water through sweat so you’ll wanna replace that. You may also want to replace electrolytes depending on the distance you did. Grab some Gatorade, Coconut Water or another sports drink to achieve this.
Stretch - I like to do both dynamic and static stretching immediately post race. It helps decrease muscle soreness and helps keep you flexible. I love this stretching routine from an earlier blog post.
Eat - I usually have a banana or a recovery drink like muscle milk or low fat chocolate milk, immediately after a race. Experts have recommended having a post race snack or drink within 30-60 minutes of completing a race during the “glycogen recovery window”. “Its when your body needs nutrients to replace glycogen stores and repair muscle tissue.” - Runners World. I then eat a regular meal about an hour or so afterward which has carbs and protein. If it’s half marathon or a longer distance, I indulge in one of my favorites: Baked ziti:)
Get a massage - I like to get a ‘light’ 5-10 minute massage after the race. I say ‘light’ because having a regular sports massage could increase inflammation. Which means a longer recovery time. You don’t want that. So wait a day or two to take advantage of a deep massage. For now, utilize the post race massages some events have (which usually includes a stretch;) or have your spouse/friend give one to you.
Take an ice bath - Doing a 10-15 minute ice bath helps reduce inflammation, tissue breakdown and jump starts the healing process. This method is better than an ice pack because you’re treating your entire body at the same time rather than one small area.
Do yoga - Yoga helps decrease the tightness you’ll be feeling post race and will help increase your flexibility. Aim for at least 10 minutes. Make sure your muscles are warm. See my Pinterest Board here for a great routine.
Foam roll - Ahhh. The part that I hate & love at the same time. I hate it because it hurts but I love that my muscles feel so much better after I roll. Foam rolling is self massage or myofascial release that you achieve by rolling different body parts over a foam roller. It stretches your muscles and tendons which helps your become more flexible. It also massages away fascia build up and increases blood flow. This helps to relieve soreness. Think of it as a deep sports massage. See here for foam rolling exercises.
Wear compression gear - Compression gear refers specialized socks, sleeves and tights that reduces pressure and increases blood flow & circulation. This helps you to recover faster. I used New Balance compression sleeves after my race and was shocked at the difference it made in my walking. FYI - It is tight when you put it on, so don’t freak out.
Elevate your feet - Lift your legs above your heart for a few minutes to help improve lower body circulation. I put my legs up on a wall for about 5 minutes.
Rest - This is another no brainer. Your body has just been put through a lot. Get some rest to allow your body to repair itself. Take a few days off after big races unless you’re training for something else.
Celebrate - You’ve put in the work, completed your goal, now its time to celebrate! Go out with family & friends, share your accomplishment on social media and/or rock your medal all day. Do whatever floats your boat. You deserve it:)
Please feel free to share with anyone you know who just ran a race or will be running a race soon.