Activity as a Form of Race Recovery
First things first, congratulations to everyone who completed a race this past weekend! Twin Cities In Motion put on another great series of races. But now the hoopla is over and it’s time to start the process of race recovery.
If you ran this weekend, I hope you enjoyed it and found some time to relax and eat a large amount of well-deserved food. You need to replenish nutrients after a taxing race. You were most likely sore after the race and into the evening. You may have noticed even more soreness Monday morning after you woke up from a full night of sleep. That’s typical.
How Recovery Works
Your body relies on muscle contraction to initiate the flow of inflammation out of the muscles and through the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system acts another circulatory system to help with the transit of nutrients, cells and inflammation throughout the body.
The lymphatic system and veins don’t have muscles within the vessel walls. These vessels rely on the contraction of muscles to facilitate movement. The muscle contractions act in a way that squeezes the vessels in a way to push the fluid through them.
Post-race, your body has a build-up of inflammation due to the use of muscles. Tiny micro-tears develop within the muscle tissue and are then naturally repaired by the body. This is how our body strengthens muscles.
Active Race Recovery
This is why movement, within reason, is important in reducing soreness. It activates the muscles to contract and improves the flow of nutrients to the muscles as well as carries away the toxins that have built up within the tissue.
I say within reason, because few people can handle another taxing training run a few days after the race. That takes years of running and strengthening to accomplish and better left to the elite level runner. It’s important to allow time for your body to rest and recuperate prior to beginning or continuing training after a race.
For the majority of us, a nice light walk, bike ride or swim is sufficient movement to get “the juices flowing”. Yoga is another great option that more and more runners are beginning to try.
Make Active Recovery Easy
Whatever the activity you choose, make sure it’s light as to not further damage the muscle tissue. A light sweat is all you should need to increase blood flow. No need to break a “sauna-like” sweat. For runners, it’s important that the activity incorporates some kind of leg exercise.
If your soreness doesn’t seem to subside within a few days of the race, be sure to get in to a health care provider and get it checked out. It could be an underlying injury. A light workout combined with your regular race recovery regimen can help you work past the soreness phase and get you back on the paths after a race.