Post Marathon Recovery
Recovery is a word that the hard core triathlete and distance runner can often bristle at. It evokes concerns over time, aging, performance and preparation toward the next event. Working with all levels of accomplishment in running and triathlon gives me a window into seeing how recovery occurs for many athletes across a wide variety of ages and competitive levels. Below is a quick primer and some thoughts on recovery for your next race or athletic event.
1. Think about recovery before the race or event: Since recovery begins as soon as you cross the finish line of a race or as soon as the clock time expires, your plan for recovery has to be in place prior to your event.
2. When you finish a race or triathlon do not stop moving for at least 10 minutes. This can include walking, stretching, slow jogging etc. This gradual decrease of activity toward a rest state allows blood pressure and heart rate to normalize gradually and also allows the body to also begin the process of removing lactic acid and other "debris" of aerobic and anaerobic cellular function.
A liquid drink combining protein, carbohydrates, and electrolytes (including salt) should be consumed within the first 30 minutes post race. There is great debate on ratios of these components in the drink, but I will not deal with that here. For now the key is getting a drink in with these contents into the digestive system inside 30 after finish. Liquid is greatly preferred over solid intake because of transit time in digestion and speed at which it crosses the wall of small intestine.
3. Light stretching of the entire lower extremity and torso musculature within the first 60 minutes post race.
4. Continuing to move, anywhere from 10-15 minutes per hour for the rest of that waking day. Laying down, in complete immobility, for hours at a time will significantly impair inflammation reduction and recovery times.
5. Restore intracellular and extracellular hydration by taking a full mouthful of water every five minutes -10 minutes throughout next 2 days while monitoring urine clarity for indications of proper hydration.
6. Schedule massage and/or chiropractic visit on day 2-3 post race, unless injury was suffered, to balance and restore normal bio mechanical function. This helps athlete get back to training more quickly following intense physical stress. If an injury was suffered, scheduling sooner would be indicated. I don't believe that you have to do this but I see in the athletes that I treat that they recover faster with this pattern of care.