You’ve trained hard, and you feel you’re ready. Time for race day.
About half way through, your calves tighten up, body starts to ache, thighs begin to burn. After the race, you’re exhausted, and your body is cramping. You realize that muscles you’ve never knew existed are sore to the touch.
The following days and week is faced with extreme muscle aches and pains.
You begin to question what’s the point in all this. You ask yourself, “Why am I so sore? I’ve never felt like this after training.”
The reason you’re this sore is because you weren’t in shape. Nothing to be offended about because most people, including myself, aren’t in shape for long races. A good bench mark in measuring how prepared and sore you’ll end up being is the 40 minute mark. Any 10K ran below 40 minutes means you’re good to go and recovery shouldn’t be an issue. Any 10K lasting longer than 40 minutes means you’ll have a rough few days of recovery after the race.
Besides race length, the course’s elevation will make a huge difference. Training on just a flat surface isn’t recommended in most training programs. You need to mix up your elevation with inclines and declines. soreness and muscle aches.
Combine the issues of an elevated race, improper training, and race day adrenaline leaves most 10K runners sore for no more than one week. I, myself am no stranger to this. I’ve just accepted the fact that I probably will be sore every single time.
So, how do you properly recover?
Immediately after your 10K is over, priority number one is to re-hydrate and replenish essential minerals lost from your body. Eat nutritious carbohydrates and drink water, then repeat throughout the day.
Your next focal point in your 10K recovery is rest. Take naps and get to bed early the day before and the day after your 10K race. However, DO NOT LAY DOWN ALL DAY.
You need to keep blood circulating throughout your body in order to speed up recovery. Walk around, do some chores, head to the grocery store. This also doesn’t mean to go ahead and put your running shoes back on and head out for a jog. I recommend going on a 20 minute walk the day after your 10K. It might not feel pleasant, but it’ll do your body good.
I myself lay off running for at least one week, and suggest you doing the same. Let your body fully recover before you begin another training protocol or casual jogging. You can instead settle for walks, use StairMasters or ellipticals, anything that is less stressful on your body but will get the blood moving and heart rate up.
Foam Rollers & Stretching
In my personal opinion, foam rolling and stretching is the MOST important part of a speedy recovery, but it won’t be pain free. I describe it has having a “hurts so good” feel to it.
Most people won’t have access or the funds to a masseuse, so I suggest purchasing a foam roller or muscle roller. Both are game changers in overall physical recovery. A quick YouTube search will demonstrate the proper use of each.
The exact science behind why people get sore isn’t 100% conclusive. What scientists can agree upon is that people who are experiencing soreness are also experiencing muscle damage and repair. Foam and muscle rollers break apart settled scar tissue, activating blood flow, allowing for a more efficient recovery.
The day after your 10K is when you should begin foam and muscle rolling, followed by stretching afterwards. Static stretching isn’t healthy and can actually damage muscles. After foam rolling, you body will be nice and loose. Take advantage of the situation and stretch. Do this for the next three days, and your soreness and length of recovery will be cut down tremendously.
Hot & Cold Baths
Alternating hot and cold bathing has been used for quite some time in order to help athletes with recovery.
I took three, steaming hot Epsom salt baths after my most recent 10K race, two baths postrace on race day and one the next morning, each lasting 20 minutes long with light stretching done immediately afterwards. Talk about felt good.
I know not everyone is a fan of cold or ice baths, but I find them quite enjoyable. In fact, I prefer them over hot baths when it comes to performance recovery. The studies of warm baths are conclusive, but not so much for their colder counterpart. I think colder baths work both physically and mentally, but it could all be in my head. The only way to see if cold or ice baths work for you is by trying them out for yourself. I recommend having one 5 minute ice bath everyday for three days starting the day after your 10K in order to help with recovery.
Hope you all enjoyed this week’s blog post! If you’re about to run your first 10K or have one coming up, try incorporating the information in this blog post into your postrace recovery! As always, don’t forget to like, comment, share, and subscribe!
“You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face.”
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