It's always harder than it sounds.
We are between the spring and summer race seasons which means you may be sitting with your legs currently up a wall or you will be soon...hopefully. The emotions following a race often lead athletes to a desire to push their bodies to their next best, but there is not enough printed or internet content emphasizing how to REALLY rest, which is why I wanted to check in with all of you high achievers who are already thinking about your next personal record!
Whether you fell short, met, or exceeded your expectations at your race, recovery should be your number one priority. Repairing your body, mind, and spirit at the cellular level is the most optimal way you can meet new goals, so here is some food for thought as you consider what's next.
Rise & Reflect
We sign up for major races to reach new heights and to experience something phenomenal...and then we move on with normal life. Take this time off from training and reflect on your experience before you forget about it. Journal or schedule time with your therapist, or book time with your coach. You accomplished something special, and those emotions are worth acknowledging! This will also assist in any closure you may need to begin your next training session with more levity and lightness.
Your body produces lactic acid days and days after a race. Schedule some self-care to increase blood flow, relax and remove muscle waste. If you live in Colorado, I have bodywork experts and healers I'd be happy to direct you to.
Get Real Rest
Nothing in the world can replace sleep. Our bodies want to fully rest, but depending on what emotions you're experiencing, you may be feeling anxious about your performance or excited about your next race which may interrupt real rest. Do yourself a favor and prioritize seven to nine hours of sleep by following a bedtime routine while avoiding caffeine after noon.
Set Up a Hydration Station
Training is over, but every cell in your body is still thirsty. Aid your bones, muscles, and tissues to avoid inflammation, injury, and tummy trouble to support a healthy recovery. I suggest setting up a hydration station in your home or office to keep this important consideration top of mind. You can learn more about how to hydrate by checking out this former blog post.
Turn Your Previous Nos to Yeses
Only runners understand how much time training truly takes. Between warming up, prioritizing nutrition, managing a full-time job, parenting, self-care, and getting in your workouts, there are few hours left for every other important item on your to-do list. Find time to get a happy hour with your former college roommate, schedule yoga with your best friend, and make reservations for brunch. You and all the people who you love and supported you during this training cycle deserve it. I know I wouldn't be here without my people who heard "no" from me regularly since before Christmas.
Eat Right & Enjoy
You can do both! The restaurant experience, food blogs, and new recipes are at an all-time high right now! Nutrition is important for runners for many reasons. Eating foods that are right for you enable you to anticipate how a workout and race will go, so it is not uncommon to stick to certain foods you know your body LOVES while training. While recovering, it is important to account for fat, carbs & protein for whole-body repair, but it is also a great time to try something new! Get your family together to make homemade pizza or check out the new restaurant down the street. Double up on dessert. You can't get this time back!
Exercise Your Creative Muscles
If you have followed along for a while, the concept of creative exercising is not new. Send new feel-good hormones to your mind to ramp up recovery and relax into something reinvigorating. Upholster that old chair, bake, learn calligraphy, or write! There are infinite ways to get creative. It will open your imagination, help you find clarity, and chemically aid recovery!