Many of you wonder about the best way to recover after a race. Obviously the time of recovery and methods depend on the distance and duration of the race. See below for our tips adapted to different types of races.
Recovering After A 10km or 15km Race
Active recovery – one hour of cycling, walking or swimming or an easy 30-minute run – the day following the race is the best way to recuperate. It’s also the fastest as it increases vascularisation (blood flow and recuperation) . It is also important to take into account your experience of the type of race, be it road or trail. If you are new to the discipline, you will have to rest more due to fatigue and aching muscles. When you have rested for 3 or 4 days, start with 2 or 3 easy jogs to begin getting back into it. Then you will finally be ready to start training for your next goal.
Recovering After A Marathon
Unlike shorter races, doing any sport the day after a marathon is difficult. One hour of fitness walking is largely sufficient. It is recommended to avoid running for at least 2 weeks. But depending on your rate of recovery, you can increase the resting period. It is important to respect this post-marathon period and not cut it short. If you do, you increase the risk of injury or feeling an accumulation of fatigue later without really knowing why. The 3rd week after the marathon, start cycling, swimming or even hiking to avoid injuries caused by impact – Take it a little easier than you would normally! You should not start running again before the 4th week, and then only long-distance. You will be able to start training for a new goal the following month.
Note: we strongly recommend not running more than 2 marathons per year!
Recovering After A Trail Race
Take the example of a 40 to 50 km race. It is important to take into account the elevation profiles because it takes practically twice as long to recover from a mountain trail run than a flat trail run. As a general rule, marathon-type recovery is ideal. Increase the duration if the trail race included a lot of steep descents which are particularly damaging to your muscles.
If, however, a runner does a trail race as part of their preparation for a longer, more difficult race, like an ultra trail, recovery after the first race will be much shorter – about 3 or 4 days – as it is part of the preparation for a specific objective. But be careful. It is important to consider the initial race as part of the training programme which replaces another long session, and above all, be honest with yourself in your preparation. It is also a double-edged sword if you’re not capable of managing your capacity and running a race for reassurance. The impact is the same as for any other race and may hinder your preparation.
Recovering After An Ultra Trail Race
After an ultra-marathon trail race, give yourself 2 weeks off from any sport, then do zero-impact sport for 2 weeks. Finally, after one month with no running, you can start jogging for 2 weeks, but not for over an hour. After respecting this recovery period you can start planning your next training programme.
Given the duration and difficulty of ultra-marathon trail races, we strongly recommend only one race per year to give yourself time to recover properly! Don’t think you can run more races just because some champions do. We don’t all have their physical condition or training programme; and it is also possible their performance would be even better if they ran less races.
Most importantly don’t push yourself too hard! Most of us would prefer to choose when we give up running to practice a different sport, not be forced to because we’ve pushed our body past its limits. Recover better, run longer!
This article was written by Philippe Propage, Kalenji coach and trainer of international athletes