I was focused for several weeks on the Sactown 10 Miler. It is all too easy to fall into a post-race slump after a big race. But that can lead to getting out of shape and off track and having to start all over. The big goal for this year is to PR in my July half-marathon. While the races leading up to are important, their main purpose is to keep me in shape and conditioned throughout the year. But I also don’t want t burn myself out before I toe the line in July.
There is a balance and fine line, both mentally and physically, to make sure you stay in shape and engaged in training. With the right post race plan, you can get a break and still preserve conditioning for the next big race.
Instinct tells you to do nothing the days after a race, but I have learned the hard way that doing nothing actually prolongs recovery and soreness. The best thing you can do for tight muscles is to use them – but be gentle. My favorite activities the day after race are walking, yoga and cycling.
It’s important to not stop running altogether. If you do, you might gain weight, you will definitely lose fitness and you’ll have to work even harder to get back into shape.
The post-race prep should start on race day – walking and stretching immediately after the race will help reduce soreness in the following weeks. In the days following the race, take it easy, but make sure to move. Don’t push yourself to do anything that hurts. Just keeping up the routine of going to the gym or hitting the road for a walk or light jog will make it easier to get back at it. And make sure to keep up the stretching and foam rolling.
Finally – set your sights on your next race. Having a race on the calendar is great motivation. Don’t shoot for a big race right away – maybe a fun 5K or 10K with friends. Have fun with your post race fitness to keep it fresh after months of focused training.