Friday, May 12, 2017

20 Tips for After the Big Race

For many people in Grand Rapids, the Riverbank is either a yearly tradition or a one time bucket list, check that box type of race.

The 25k is a unique race in that it iss 2 miles longer then the 1/2 marathon.  On paper, that doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’m guessing come mile 13, 2 miles and some change seems significant.  This race often represents a first time dipping the toes in this long of races for many people .    Hopefully, it all went well.  This is about the aftermath.  

NOW WHAT?

The last few years I’ve seen some pretty banged up people that all started with finishing the Riverbank.  They either jumped back to quick or didn’t address some issues that cropped up during the race.  Here are some guidelines to navigate the next two weeks following you crossing that finish line.

1.  Congrats you made it.  Hug the people that mean something, slap some high fives and get something to drink.  Try to walk a bit.  Resist the urge to just collapse and not move for 30 min.  Your job right now if you don’t need the medical tent is some movement.  You don’t want to go from racing to sitting.  You might not have the energy to do a “proper cool down” but even walking will have some big time benefits to help flush the body from racing to recovery.  

2.  Get some calories in you.  Often times your stomach is still jostling around so something heavy like a cheeseburger probably won’t be the best idea, but something simple like a banana might seem delicious.  

3.  Get more calories in you.  An hour to two hours later, you might get struck with a famished feeling.  Eat what you want, after you choose some high quality protein.  Protein helps the body recover, let’s start right off the bat.  30-50 grams.  That usually means something the size of your palm. Then eat what you want.  :)

4.  Contrast shower. You can switch 3 or 4 if you want to shower before you eat lunch.  It’s permitted.  Warm/hot shower for a minute, colder shower for as long as you can (cooler will work).  Try to go back and forth a few cycles.  This is to help speed up some flushing of your system and promote a more parasympathetic state.

5. Take a nap.  

6.  Wake up and eat some more protein and drink some more water.  

7.  Bust out that foam roller and do some rolling.  Cap it at 5 minutes.  Work the quads, hips, and calves.  Roll the bottom of the feet with a lacrosse ball.  

8.  Before bed do some gentle stretching with a rope or towel.  The purpose of this is more for relaxation then actually stretching to improve range of motion.  Something just nice and easy and focus on your breathing.  Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth.

9.  Sleep an extra hour if you can.  Sleep is our biggest recovery option available.  

10.  Wake up and drink some extra coffee.  I’m biased, but I think it helps.  

11.  The day after is 10 min of elevated heart rate that isn’t on your feet.  This can be a bike, a pool, weight lifting or even rolling on the ground with your foam roller.  Just get some blood moving.  No more then 20 minutes.  Nothing that makes you lose your breath.

12.  Keep on top of protein and hydration the next few days.  

13.  Hang out.  Literally.  Hang from a pull up bar or a tree branch for as long as you can.  Try to do this 2-3x a day.  If you don’t have access, hanging from a study door with feet on the floor can work.  Here were bringing in some traction to the lower back.  If you go to the gym, hang off the back extension machine for about 20 sec a repetition.  Hanging this way you need to be careful for eye pressure.  

14.  3 days later your going to foam roll for 10 minutes focusing on quads, hips, calves and feet.  Then follow that with a 15 min walk.  We are looking for an asymmetrical soreness.  For example, your left knee or left quad was the only thing that hurt more then the right.  It’s OK to be sore, we are looking for one thing that is more sore then the others.  

15.  Treat yourself to a massage.  I’d suggest at least 4 days post race.  

16.  During day 3-6 you can add 10 min a day to activity.  So day 6 you can be at an hour of pretty light to medium activity.  Again, nothing that is strenuous and nothing on your feet.  

17.  Keep checking in with your body through foam rolling the key areas and walking.  Paying a little more attention to the areas that remain sore that is asymmetrical.  

18.  No running for 7 days post race.  First runs between week 1-2 post race are kept under 5-6 miles.  This is only cleared when there is no asymmetrical soreness, for example, I feel real good except for my left foot, that still hurts.  Figure it out before you jump the gun.  

19.  Get help from a professional is your asymmetrical soreness doesn’t go away in 7-10 days.

20.  20 deep breaths before you go to bed every night starting day one.  Inhale through the nose.  Gentle long exhale.  Repeat and make this a habit.  

Congrats, you made it 10 days since your big race.  You should feel like your old self again.  Time to choose your next goal and start pursuing it.  


This is designed for the person that is doing a one time race.  You trained specifically for this race and not using this race as just a long run for a later race such as Bayshore marathon.  There is a huge difference in racing and running.  This is also guidelines for someone that is new to this distance.  This is the first time hitting these long runs.  With that said, hope it helps you recover and not become that person on my table that regretted their race.