What comes after the race?
Whether you are a seasoned tri-athlete or this is a “one-time-bucket-list-check-off”, post race conditioning is as important as getting ready for the race itself. All of the care and determination that got you to the starting line still needs to be summoned to recover after the run. The last thing you want is to have put all this effort in and have the resounding memory be an unhealed injury.
Advice on post-race rest, runs, nutrition and other activities is everywhere. From classic books to trainers’ blogs, there is a lot of great information available. Whether you have a personal mentor or are part of a group like our friends at Fred’s Team (who we have helped support for the last 5 years), their post-run guidance is invaluable: they got you to this point and their experience will help you get back on the road. The challenges faced after the run however are generally agreed on and we have worked with many runners and their trainers to help overcome them. In broad terms, these include:
Exhaustion and immune suppression The energy that it takes to run a marathon can leave you and your immune system depleted. After the big run you are more vulnerable to colds and other infections. The cortisol release alone that comes from this kind of exertion can dramatically lower your resistance.
Physiological stress A long race involves not only your muscles but also all of the organs involved in metabolism. A marathoner will easily burn over 2200 calories in a couple of hours. Electrolytes, neurotransmitters and hormones all shift during a 26.2 mile run and you want to get your inner balance back as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Emotional stress Any marathoner will tell you that it’s all about where your head is. Yet even after all of the validation and psychological conditioning, many runners experience post-marathon blues. Sometimes it is because of chemical shifts and changes in neurotransmitters; sometimes it is simply not knowing what to do next after the excitement of this life-changing event.
Injuries from blisters to sprains, small or large, injuries are a given in this race. Absorbing the impact of 30-50,00 steps and all the training that went into it is bound to take a toll and improperly addressed injuries can linger for a long time to come. The more prepared you are to take care of these things after the big run, the more likely you are to look forward to your regular athletic routine and a better training cycle in the future. The tips for post-marathon recovery are simultaneously general and personal, based on your training background. Essentially they are:
- Hydrate and eat properly
- Heal both physically and mentally
- Resume your training with clear goals for after the run
Week 1Attend to acute injuries Support immune function Promote qi circulation for general aches and pains.
Continue to address injury healing
Reduce stagnation physically (aches) and mentally (depression, insomnia)
Begin to re-build Qi energy to support physiological health