A quick read to help you recover from your race....
When you have your best race possible, it’s rare you learn anything major as it’s all gone to plan but it is wonderful when that does happen. When you have your worst race possible, you will still have done your best on the day and you can often learn a lot from it, which will make your next race even better.
Where am I going with this you may ask! A few years ago I ran Cheddar Off Road Half Marathon. As I drove from Bristol, the weather became gradually more artic and torrential rain/sleet poured from the sky, this continued for most of the race. Now I really enjoy taking part in events, I’m not the fastest but I love the experiences, people you meet and atmosphere. This time, it was a little more challenging! By mile 3, I think from being so cold, my calves, knees and ankles all hurt (which is very unusual for me). I had gone off way too fast (something that I always remind clients not to do, but I was out of practise on ‘shorter races’ having done an Ironman the year before) & I realised I had not done enough training.
Somehow, I applied my mental strength strategies and the miles did go by, but I have to be honest and admit it was possibly one of my worst, best races ever! Wonderfully horrible I described to a client who asked. And why was this? Because, from our most challenging events, we learn the most. By taking time to reflect on the race, I learnt so much. I know I must do some more consistent run training now my body is fully well, get some key core & strength sessions in and more regular sports therapy to keep me knees happy. Bring on my next race..
What can you learn from your best, worst races? You need to take some time to write down, reflect and action, to make the most from the learning’s.
Here are my 7 Top Tips to recover from any race, whatever the outcome:
- Be flexible with yourself – whatever the outcome, you will have done your best possible on the day. Write down the top 3 things that you were not happy with, and then next to them an action plan of how to improve them. Write down what you are going to do, how it will make you feel and how you will gain from it. Be specific, clear and accountable, and ask for help if you are unsure.
- Find the Positive – remember to celebrate the good from your training and race result. Write down and share at least 2 positives from the race, however small - find them, write how they made you feel and be proud of yourself.
- Be flexible – Always make time to cool down at the end of a race, or later that evening if you are cold. Spend a good half an hour stretching, using a foam roller if it works for you and some basic yoga moves. In the coming post-race days, get out walking, swimming and do some light core exercises, they are the key to strengthen and lengthen the muscles, reduce the risk of injury and increase stability. If you can plan in a sports therapy massage treatment every 4-6 weeks this will enhance your performance even more, and keep your muscles in great condition whatever your ability. This is especially useful post-race and during big mileage for marathon training.
- Recovery Fuel - Often people forget that great performances are achieved not only on good training, but great food and quality sleep. Post-race, make sure you have enough good quality proteins, dark leafy greens and complex carbohydrates to recover well. Often just after your stomach maybe sensitive so a Protein Shake (I like Optimum Nutrition Chocolate Plant Protein with berries, chia seeds & sometimes buckwheat flakes if the miles have been big, with a dash of turmeric) or a Protein Whipped Bite bar which is quick and easy. Combined with this, hydration is key, especially if it’s cold, you can forget this – I use Optimum Nutrition Train + Sustain for immune and muscle support. Overall, keep it simple – be aware of your nutrition and the levels of energy you are burning. For a week, write down everything you are eating and also your energy levels, mood, hunger and sleep. Once this is in balance your performance, recovery and energy should improve. It all depends on your end goal, but the key to lean, efficient, energised bodies is quality training, nutrition, sleep and positive stress levels.
- Fire – Take a pause after your race to recover before ‘panic’ entering another race – even just a couple of days. Decide what your future goals are, make sure they give you some ‘fire’ in your belly, something that excites you, makes you a little bit nervous, motivates, inspires and kicks you to edge of your boundaries. Then go for it....enter, get the right support & knowledge around you to make it happen to your best & enjoy the journey.
- Fun – Keep in mind that you have chosen to achieve your goal so make sure you have some fun with it. Even if it’s your first ever race, you are going for a personal best or to win a gold medal, if you enjoy it you will be more motivated, focused and in the moment, therefore making better use of your energy, gaining better results and having more fun.
- Friends & Family – Keep it in balance. Some goals take a lot of time so make sure you make time to celebrate your achievement with friends and family. They are part of the journey too! This is key for balance, perspective & support, whatever your outcome from the race and for the journey to the next finish line.
I hope my top tips help you recover. It really is about taking the time after a couple of days to reflect and action something positive from your race. Those who can be flexible in their mind set and have the courage to adapt their training, listening to their bodies & minds, will gain the most enjoyment from any race.