Let me be the first to say it: Finishing one 50K definitely does not qualify me as an expert in all things ultra marathon.
But I have been training for, running and racing all kinds of distances for almost 20 years now (crap, that makes me feel old), so I am somewhat of an expert on my body and how to help it bounce back from pretty intense endurance events.
This is by no means an exhaustive checklist; it’s just what I like to do to help kick-start the recovery process, which — if done properly — is where the real gains in your training can occur.
1. Celebrate — You just ran 31 miles! Accept that round of hugs, collect your medal, then take a load off for a few minutes…preferably in the shade.
2. Eat — Refuel your body so it can repair and rebuild. For me, this equates to fistfuls of candy at the finish, but I always follow it up with a good meal.
3. Drink — Celebratory glass of Pomegranate Cider (see step no. 1) aside, I spend the rest of the day trying to rehydrate until my pee runs light yellow.
4. Assess — Do a head-to-toe check for injuries or issues. From blisters to poison oak to tweaked joints, it’s better to recognize it sooner rather than later.
5. Address — I pop Advil for aches, wear compression gear to soothe muscles, apply Tecnu, and bathe in ice or Espom salts to reduce inflammation.
6. Sleep — Restless legs may make it tough to sleep the night after the race, so two nights later I aim for a long, deep sleep to allow my body to reboot.
7. Rest — More than just sleep, this means taking a day (or two) off after a race that gives my body — and mind — and break from the training grind.
8. Reflect — Drafting up the race report while the event is still fresh in my head lets me figure out what worked well — and what didn’t — for next time.
9. Move — I start with light walking the day after and ease in with a gentle swim on day two. By day three, I follow it up with an easy session on the bike.
10. Plan — Last but not least, it’s important to continually set goals to stay motivated. This usually comes in the form of a new race registration!
What are your best strategies for recovering from a big event?