How To Recover After A Big Race

How To Recover After A Big Race

When it comes to racing, post-race recovery is just as important as pre-race training. Improper recovery can cause injuries and prevent a quick rebound. No matter the length of your race, proper recovery can keep you healthy and set you up for success in your next endeavor.

Group of cyclist in a line mid race.

Immediate Recovery

Avoid sitting down, even though it’s probably the number one thing you’ll want to do. Cool down after crossing the finish line by moving for around 15 minutes, and follow with a round of stretching. While you’re walking around, take time to visit the recovery booths to rehydrate (with water or a recovery drink) and fuel back up with a snack - try a banana, snack bar, or a bagel to replenish carbohydrates. While post-race beers are often a staple at finish lines, try to avoid consuming too much alcohol after you finish - be sure to pair your brew with plenty of water if you do indulge. Tell these tips to your cheering squad so they can help keep you accountable and encourage you to stay moving and refueling.

The Night After

Recovery continues after you leave the course. Avoid prolonged sitting for the rest of the day, making sure to stretch or move around a few times an hour. Replenish your protein and carbohydrate stores throughout the day and keep drinking water. And don’t forget to celebrate your achievement! Share that post-race medal photo and feel proud of your accomplishment - emotional recovery is just as important and physical recovery.

Male runner running down a road during a race.

The Weeks After

Depending on the intensity of your race, the speed with which you bounce back to your typical training regimen will vary. Typical recommendations say to totally rest from intense activity for a few days after your race, then slowly get back into light workouts and cross training. Don’t just jump back into your pre-race workout habits, take things slowly. Pushing yourself the day after will rarely cause any gain and will often cause detriment to your body, so make sure you allow yourself the space to recover. Once your body feels ready and you’ve worked your way up gently, you can return to normal training.

Female racer riding through a rocky patch at Breck Epic.

The few weeks after your race will require listening to your body and taking it slow. The moment you cross the finish line you can start looking ahead to your next race or goal - but you’ll have to give your mind and your body time to recover in order to return to your race-day abilities.