You’ve been tackling mile after mile of obstacles, braving cold waters, completing tire flips and leaping over finish line fires. You’re standing triumphantly at the finish line with a medal around your neck and smile on your face.
Now it’s time to rest and relax with a beer or three, right? Guess again!
Post-race recovery is HUGE part of maximizing your gains, recovering faster and getting back to training. Instead of hanging out in the beer garden for the rest of the day, do these things instead:
Eat, Drink and Be Merry.
After crushing that obstacle course you need to get some fuel in your body. At the finish line there are usually bananas and water, so eat up and drink up! Bananas help reduce swelling and cramps due to their high potassium and low sodium content. They are amazing for recovery! However, don’t forget to also get some VPX protein in after the race to fuel your muscles and take advantage of potential gains.
Additionally, make sure to eat soon after the race and throughout the day. Don’t try skipping meals. Calories help you recover faster since your body needs them to repair tendons and muscles, in addition to building new muscle tissue.
Some things to avoid are alcohol and fatty foods, as these things slow the recovery process. Alcohol can inhibit recovery by means of dehydration, so if you plan on heading to the bar make sure to drink plenty of water. When it comes to fatty foods, avoid those which contain omega-6 fatty acids (safflower, corn, and soybean oils) because they cause inflammation.
Move It or Lose It!
Your mind may be telling you to take a seat, lay down and soak up some sun, but your body wants to keep moving. By walking around the festival area of an event, you recover actively and safely. Allow your heart rate to return to normal or even take a light jog soon after, such as being a rabbit or turtle in a kids’ race.
Also, make sure to stretch out your muscles to release some of the lactic acid. You can foam roll or massage all your muscles with a lacrosse ball lightly. Remember to massage not just your calves or quads, but the other often-overlooked areas, such as the shoulders, neck and back.
The Following Day…
It’s the next morning and every muscle fiber in your body is screaming. Guess what? Recovery isn’t over! Rip yourself off that couch and begin some active recovery.
The day after a race shouldn’t be high exertion. You don’t need sprints, hills or heavy weight. Add something light and enjoyable, such as going for a hike, a light jog or perhaps something different, such as yoga or another recreational sport.
The most important thing is to keep moving! You may feel some pain the next day, but remember you just ran a race! If the pain persists for longer than three days, you may want to consider scheduling a doctor’s appointment just to be sure it’s nothing major.
Again, make sure to hydrate, and of course to stretch and roll so you can get back to training hard!
This is a guest post by VPX Team Xtreme Athlete Miguel Medina. A Southern California native, he is currently living in Pittsfield, Vermont, where he has been challenged by the founders of Spartan Race to survive and build a cabin in the woods in order to train for the 2014 World Championships. In addition, he continues to travel the country as a competitive obstacle racer.