Marathon Self Endurance

Post Race Self Care

Many runners experience something of an existential crisis once their race is behind them. You’ve spent the past several months, maybe even the past year, building up to this one pivotal moment — crossing the finish line. The training has consumed you.  Race day has come and gone and you’re either feeling elated or deflated about your results. Now that you’ve put it behind you, you may be having some feelings or insecurity and unrest. Now what? We’re here to give you some guidance on how to recover physically, mentally and emotionally from your race. No matter what your result. 

Take the Time to Process 

This process can take hours, days or even weeks. No matter what your results, whether you achieved your goal or not, you are going to need time to process what you just experienced. Sometimes the feelings of euphoria, excitement, or disappointment and failure stay with you for many days after a race. Invite those feelings in. Allow them to wash over you and flow through you. Be aware of them and sit with them for a moment. We encourage all of our clients to do a thought download after their race. Write down every thought that enters your brain. Everything. Good, bad, and ugly. No judgement. Only curiosity and compassion. You may be surprised by what comes up. And you will be able to make sense of your feelings once you’ve done it. 

Acknowledge your Accomplishments, No Matter how Big or Small

This part comes easy if you hit your goal. Our brains want to seek satisfaction or pleasure in our accomplishments. But what if you missed your time goal? Remember this: The finish line was never the destination. The finish line was never the destination! Think of every single training run you showed up for and completed. Think of every moment of your race. You are not defined by your result. You can make your race mean whatever you decide to. Additionally, one race isn’t going to define you as a runner or as a person. There will be many runs and races along the course of your life, and there will be something to take away from each of them. List the positive points. Refer back to them. And then put the rest on the shelf. 

Refueling Nutrition

Don’t forget about the physical part of overcoming a big race. Whatever distance you covered, no matter how hard you ran, your body has been depleted of its energy stores. It’s important that you replenish that energy with food! Many times, after a big run, even days after, you may feel like a bottomless pit of hunger, or you may even lose your appetite. You’ll notice some fatigue and irritability. All signs of calorie deficit. Learn to listen to your body. And practice replenishing your calories. Your body goes into major overdrive, burning calories immediately after a workout. You can burn up to 4 times the amount of calories within 20-30 min after your workouts than any other time of the day. It’s critical that you fuel your body during that after burn process. Don’t forget about all the water and electrolyte you just sweat out. Keep drinking water! Depending on your distance you may need to continue replenishing for several days. Eventually, you will need to back off from the high calories needed to fuel your training. Be mindful. Listen to your body. 

Rest and Recovery

Give yourself some grace. You’ve spent the last several months in super sonic training mode. It’s become a habit. A need to run. Remember that your workouts break down the muscles, and your recovery is where you rebuild and become stronger. Think of how many months of break down you’ve just put your body through, not to mention the impact of hard racing. Your body deserves a break. Even if you’re not feeling sore, ease back into the routine and avoid speed work. General rule of thumb: x miles in your race = x days of recovery. 

On the flip side, don’t slide into oblivion either. Often, runners become so overwhelmed after their race, that they just stop running all together. Go out for a nice and easy walk or bike ride, or a fun hike. Keep moving. Recovery doesn’t mean you need to be sedentary. 

What’s Next?

After the dust of the race settles, you may be wondering what’s next for you. For some, it may be setting another bigger goal. For others, you may need to take some time off to pursue something new and different. If you’re feeling tweaks and pains from your last training cycle, maybe you need to take a season off from hard training. If your heart wants to spend time chasing peaks and climbing mountains, to give yourself a break from following a rigid schedule, do it. Or maybe you’re pumped from accomplishing something big and you want to find out what else you’ve got and take it a step further. Whatever it is, be sure your mind, body and spirit feel peace about it.

Give your body and mind what they need following your race. They have been good to you and deserve the very best.

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