After you cross the Finish Line of The Vitality Big Half, it’s a good idea take things easy for a while as your muscles will likely feel a bit sore. Check out our tips below to ensure you bounce back to full fitness faster…
Elevate your legs
Immediately after the race elevate your legs if you can – for example, find a tree and lie under it with your legs raised against the trunk for 10 minutes. This will help reduce the build-up of fluid in your legs. This is particularly important for injury prone runners.
Nutrition and hydration
Try to eat a meal that contains protein and carbs within two hours of finishing the race. This will help your muscles to replenish the glycogen you’ve used to power through the race. If you feel like your immune system needs a boost, eat some vitamin-C-rich food such as kiwi fruit, oranges or dark berries. Hydration also plays an important part in your recovery. Drink before, during, and after the race – little and often to avoid the risk of over hydrating.
Relaxation and sleep
Make sure you plan time for rest and relaxation after the race. Take it easy and try to get some sleep during the day to speed up your recovery – 20 to 40-minute naps are recommended, any longer than this and you may find it harder to sleep at night.
Ice and cold water
Ice and cold water can be used to help relieve any aches and pains you might be feeling after The Big Half. Sit in a bath or pool of cold water to ease pain in your legs, or wrap ice in a wet towel to target a particular area. Don’t put ice directly on to your skin without a towel because this could cause an ice burn.
Dealing with aches and pains
Aches and stiffness after intense exercises are usually caused by delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and will generally improve after 48 hours. If you’re still in pain several days after The Vitality Big Half, you may have damaged a muscle, joint or tendon. Continue to rest and if you’re still in pain a week after the race, visit your GP for professional advice.
If you’re going to exercise in the days after the race, start with walking. A steady 15 or 20-minute walk will help get you back into the swing of things and help your legs recover, without putting your body under too much strain. You can then build this up to gentle jogging and low intensity running.
Running on soft surfaces
Running on the road is tough on your body, so when you start exercising again after the race, keep to soft surfaces like grass or even off-road trails to reduce soreness. Take care in wet weather as the terrain becomes slippery, and wear footwear designed for off-road training.
Like running on soft surfaces, exercising in water is low impact and great for your recovery.
The water pressure will also help to remove the waste products and extra fluid that have built up in your legs from all that running. Another benefit of swimming is that it gets your arms working too, so you won’t deplete the energy stores in your leg muscles any further.
Many runners get a sports massage after a race, believing that they are a good way to relieve muscle tension and boost circulation and flexibility. If you don’t regularly get massages and you’re not used to them, just get a very light massage or ‘recovery rub’.