Endurance racing, as the name implies, is a form of racing that tests an athlete’s ability to run continuously over an extended distance, usually classified as at least three kilometres. Biologically speaking, humans are actually among the animals most well-built for endurance running, so it’s not surprising to see it has become a popular hobby. But, evolutionary predispositions or not, endurance racing is still quite tough on the body, so here are some of the best tips for recovering after an endurance race.
Even people who have absolutely no interest in sport know that staying hydrated is an essential part of your health and safety, but it isn’t as straightforward as drinking lots of water before, during, and after the race. In fact, if you are running an endurance race, the best thing you can do is weigh yourself before the event and again afterwards. For every kilo you lose as a result of the exercise, you want to drink 1.5 litres of water to replace it. Please note that, while a kilo of water is exactly one litre, liquids with any additives will be heavier, and so drinking 1.5 times the amount lost may be too much.
If you are running a multi-day event, and want to recover quickly, consistent sipping is the safest way to avoid over-hydration. If you do not need to recover as soon as possible, then spread your re-hydration over the course of the days following the race.
Most serious athletes will know to consume lots of protein and carbohydrates after an intense workout, but they may not know how to figure out how much they should be eating. To optimise your recovery, it should be personalised, so get a pencil and start doing some sums.
There are two recovery periods post-endurance race: the first 30 minutes after the race, and 2 hours later. In the first 30 minutes, you need to eat 0.8g of carbs and 0.2g of protein for every kilo of total body weight. Ideally, this should be a snack, and you should eat a proper meal of protein, carbs, and fat as close to 2 hours later as possible.
Rest will be one of the most appealing concepts out there as soon as you make it past the finish line, but again, there’s a little more to resting than just not moving. You can still do everything you’ve been looking forward to, whether that’s watching TV in bed or lying out in the sun, but your top priority should be to get a better night’s sleep than you usually do.
The effects that the run will have had not only on your muscles, but also on your hormones and mental state, will mean your body will be a little worse for wear for a few days. Sleep is crucial in allowing these factors to resolve themselves, so in addition to getting more sleep, try to encourage yourself to fall into as deep a sleep as possible. Sticking to a strict bedtime coming up to the race will help you achieve this, as will ensuring that your sleeping environment is comfortable, dark, and quiet. You should also avoid looking at screens for the last 30 minutes before bed.
Most people who run an endurance race will understand the importance of proper rest, diet, and hydration, but may not necessarily know exactly what the best options are, so hopefully the points above add a little more clarity and detail to the process. In many areas of health, the best thing you can do is listen to your body, but sometimes you need to follow a plan, even if your body seems to be telling you otherwise. You may be tempted to consume lots of food and drink as soon as you can, but the best approach is to control your urges and stick as closely to the plan as possible.