You did it. Your hard work paid off and you crossed the finish line. Your body aches and you’re mentally exhausted, but you’ve achieved your goal. So, what happens now? Don’t stop just yet. It’s important to do your cool-down, replenish your body’s supplies, and give yourself some recovery time.
YOUR ROUTE TO SUCCESS > >
HELP YOUR RECOVERY
As soon as you finish the race you might be tempted to sit down, but you must keep moving for just a little while longer. Follow your cool-down program to stretch out your tired muscles and reduce potential post-race stiffness. After that a shower and fresh clothes will also help your body and mind begin their recovery. Then you can relax and finally enjoy a well-deserved feeling of accomplishment.
REHYDRATE AND REFUEL
Even if you keep your hydration and nutrition levels topped up during a race, you will still deplete your reserves. It is very important to start rehydrating and refueling as soon as possible, during what is known as the glycemic window. A sports drink or some water with a banana or sports gel within 15 minutes of finishing will start the refueling process. You will need to drink about 1.8 pints (1 liter) of fluid for every 2.2 lb (1kg) of body weight lost. Start to restore your muscle glycogen levels over the next four to five hours by consuming small carbohydrate snacks. Eat a little protein, too—about a third as much—to stimulate the action of insulin, the hormone that converts the glucose in carbohydrates into a form that can be picked up by the blood and used by the body.
REST TO REPAIR
After a race you deserve a break from running, and your body needs it. You should avoid exercise for at least two days to allow your muscles time to begin to repair themselves, to give your body time to replenish its energy stores, and to reduce your chance of injury or illness. You will not lose fitness by resting. In fact, if you run with muscle pain or stiffness, it can lead to poor biomechanics, which will not only affect your technique but may cause injury.
REBUILD TRAINING GRADUALLY
You might be keen to get straight back into training to build on your performance, but you need to listen to your body. The best way to start training again is to reverse your taper program and build up gradually. The length of this “rest” period will depend on the length of your race. Some people recommend taking one easy, or recovery, day for every 1 mile (1.6km) of your race. During the first week, you should run only at a low intensity, if at all. Build some non-weight-bearing exercises such as swimming and cycling into your program. They place less stress on your joints, while at the same time enabling your muscles to start working again safely. Swimming in a heated pool will also help to relax your tired muscles. Use the chart above as a guide to rebuilding your training program over the next few weeks, or try one of the four-week recovery programs on before starting to build up to your choice of training regime again. Keep your heart rate at 50–60 per cent during recovery training— any runs or jogs should be done at an easy pace.
Taken From "The Complete Running and Marathon Book" -- OmRiyadat