Good morning! If you are reading this, wish me luck while I am running the NYC Half Marathon! It starts bright and early this morning at 7:35 sharp, so I want to be at the starting line by 7am at the latest.
While I run, I thought I would give you some tips on post-race stretching and nutrition. It is just as important, if not more important, to stretch and eat well after a race because your body is so worn down from the long run.
I usually am not so worried about what I eat pre-race at this point because I have done quite a few long runs and races to know what works for my body. I pretty much eat the same as I normally do, with a few more carbs thrown in the 3 days before the run (research shows that what you eat 3 days before a long run or endurance event is the most important!). Then, on race morning I either have a bowl of oatmeal, and english muffin or toast with peanut butter and banana (with lots of water, of course!). It hasn’t failed me yet!
After the run, I really try to fuel my body well because I know that it needs a lot of nurturing and nutrients to replenish my worn out muscles to help them recover.
5 Post-race Tips
1. Rehydrate: This may be the single most important thing to do immediately after an endurance event. If you do nothing else: rehydrate, rehydrate, rehydrate! Make sure to drink plenty of water, but also try to drink some kind of sports drink as well. My sports drink of choice? Coconut water! As you know from reading my blog, I am not in to the artificial sports drinks out there. Coconut water is all natural, good for you, and delicious. Another awesome recovery drink? Chocolate milk! It contains mainly carbs, but healthy protein to fuel your muscles as well.
2. Stretch: This is the next most important thing, which you can do while you are rehydrating! When you run long distances, your muscles shorten. You probably notice this after performing any exercise for a length of time – It is harder to walk because your stride is not as long. Even though people do not like to take the time to stretch, it is extremely important to do so because you want to stretch those shortened muscles to help lengthen them again. By doing this, it decreases your suseptability to injury immensly. Aim to stretch within 1 hour after you cross the finish line, and try to get in a small stetch session every 2-3 hours for the next day or so (or until your tightness subsides). Perform static stretches (take the muscle to point of tension and hold for 1 minute). Make sure to stretch your entire body, not just your legs – your whole body got you through that run, not just your legs!
3. Ice Bath: If you can, take an ice bath as soon as you get home. If you are not close to home, try to put a few ice packs on your legs. An ice bath will reduce your aches and pains and promote a much quicker recovery. When you plunge into the cold water, blood is drained from your working muscles, removing any lactic acid with it. Try to sit for 5-10 minutes! When you get out, new, fresh blood will flow back into those muscles with more oxygen and lots of nutrients (which brings me to my next tip…).
4. Get Your Nutrients: What you eat post-race, is so important. Your body is completely work down and your muscles need healthy fuel in order to recover. Everyone feels differently after an endurance event, some may only be able to stomach something small, which others crave a huge meal, but ultimately everyone needs to replace their glycogen stores! Try to get something high in carbs into your body right away, such an 1/2 bagel or a banana (which are often given out to runners). Once you feel like eating a meal, make sure that you get as many nutrients in as you can and keep that up for a few days after the event as well. Your body will not recover over night!!
5. Feel Accomplished: You just ran a half marathon! Feel great about yourself! (And, make sure to let everyone know what you just accomplished!) 🙂
See you all after the race!