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Tip #14: Post Race Recovery

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

Welcome back to our annual “26 Tips for 26.2 Miles” blog series. For the 26 days leading up to race day, athletes and spectators can get daily tips to make the most of OUR race. Stay tuned for tips on parking and food, cool viewing spots and race rules, and answers to all your pressing race day questions. We are here to help you make the most of your 2022 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon experience! Let’s go!

If you’re running or walking the OUR race, you’ve spent months preparing. But how much time do you spend thinking about what happens after the race?

The most important thing we can do is make sure you have a safe journey, which includes what you do immediately after the race. That’s why today’s tips focus on the best steps for a successful post-race recovery.

Our Medical Director, Dr. Ben Bring, has professional and personal experience with long-distance running health. Below you can find his advice to ensure that you keep feeling good after your runner-high fades.

  • Keep moving as you finish! As you cross the finish line, it is important to keep moving to avoid a condition called “exercise associated collapse.” When you are running a marathon or half marathon, the muscles in your legs require a lot of blood flow and can act as a main source of pumping the blood through your body. Movement (like walking) will keep the blood from pooling in your legs and can prevent you from fainting or falling. Our medical team will have plenty of volunteers ready to help you as you cross the finish line on race day!

  • Re-hydration and nutrition: As you walk into Celebration Village, our wonderful volunteers will have plenty of water, snacks, and Gatorade available to help kickstart your recovery. The best way to re-hydrate is to start drinking fluids as soon as you can after a long race. Try to go “slow and steady”, aiming to hit about 500mL each hour until you are back to full hydration. Also consider eating foods like bananas, chocolate milk, pretzels, or bagels, which are all good sources of salt and carbohydrates and can replenish your lost glycogen (energy storage in the body). In addition, foods high in protein (like chicken with beans and vegetables) can help with repairing muscles after the race. Try to avoid highly processed or high fat-content foods in the days following your race.

  • Clothing: Always bring a change of dry clothes for after the race. These dry clothes can help with your post-race recovery and adjust based on the weather for your car ride home. You can keep your change of clothes in your gear check bag during the race. Stay tuned for more information on Gear Check bags!

  • Try an ice bath. Research shows that an ice bath after a race can help with DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), aka the “marathon shuffle.” Fill the tub with cold water and pour in a 10-pound bag of ice. Take the ice bath for 10 minutes.

  • Rest and Recovery: Take a nap later in the day! Aim for up to 90 minutes, as this is when your body gets into good sleep cycles and it will help you recover and heal faster. In the days following the race, try to do some light, low impact activities like walking. Taking one week off can also be helpful to avoid a lower extremity injury, aid in general recovery and ensure a safer return to running after recouping from the race.

Have additional questions? Let us know in the comments below, or share with us on Facebook and Instagram, and we’ll be sure to get them answered!

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