In part 3 of a 3 part series, Roper St. Francis podiatrist Dr. Jeff Armstrong provides recommendations for maintaining your health post-race.
Congratulations!! You did it! And “it” can mean either actually making it over the bridge and completing the Cooper River Bridge Run, or just completing your training plan and accomplishing that goal. Both are worthy of a big pat on the back. But your work isn’t over!
A post-race plan can be as important as pre-race. A 10K can be a grueling experience, with the post-race effects of the run often being more painful than the race itself. Your plan for post-race should include some celebrating, sure, but also a proper cool down, stretching, hydration and nutrition. Taking good care of your body after the run is vital to reduce the toll that run.
- Cool Down: After the finish line continue to walk to allow your breathing and heart rate to return to normal. Continue to move your muscles both upper and lower during the process.
- Stretching: Thoroughly stretch all of your muscles after the cool down. During the run the muscles shorten and need to be stretched out following the race. Hold a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds to help lengthen them.
- Hydrate: Drink plenty of water after the race, and some electrolyte sports drinks are okay too, but don’t overdo them. Drink cool water over a 30 minute period or more. Cool water gets into the muscles faster and helps to lower the body temperature.
- Nutrition: Replace lost nutrients and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. A 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is a good meal to follow post exercise.
You may go for a leisurely walk the first 48 hours after a race, but you should not run or perform vigorous physical activity. During this time the muscles can recover and heal.
A plan to continue to run and maintain your running fitness would involve two to three runs a week of 3 to 4 miles and one long run per week of 5 to 6 miles. If you want to try to improve your 10K time then run a 10K every two weeks instead of your long run. Remember, especially if you are new to running, to only run four to five times per week and a complete rest day is a must. You can do cross training or weights on another off day to help build strength and endurance.