Recovery after a trail run
Everything went well: you've finished the race! Whenever you cross the finish line, think about your recovery by hydrating and replenishing your energy. Are your legs a bit stiff? Feel sore? We are going to relieve it all.
Assess your fatigue
Once you have some peace and quiet, assess your fatigue. Am I hungry? Thirsty? Do I want to sleep? Above all, have I muscle pain or stiffness?
After this brief check-up, you can determine a suitable post-trail recovery strategy.
You have drawn from your reserves, so you must rebalance your body. It is important to drink a lot whenever you finish to rehydrate and help eliminate lactic acid and other accumulated waste.
Drinking a recovery drink will be a plus. Rich in proteins, it will promote the regeneration of tissue damaged during exercise. The supply of carbohydrates will also allow you to replenish your glycogen reserves.
Listen to your body
Your body will naturally ask for what it needs. This is why you must pay attention to what it wants after a race.
It's the time to listen to your cravings. If you want sugar, perhaps you need it? - Emelie Forsberg
You may, like trail runner Emelie Forsberg, want to eat fresh vegetables and rice rather than sweet things.
How do you recover well?
Relieving muscle pain
To ease your contractures and soreness, get your whole body moving. Do easy and gentle stretching exercises or a little yoga. Shake your legs and massage yourself a bit. Moving and making wide movements promotes venous return and helps your body release toxins. The more muscle tension you feel, the more you must work on relaxing them.
If there are physios present at the finish line, make the most of them! In the event of acute or highly localized pain, do not hesitate to consult a sports doctor because certain exercises can aggravate an injury.
Which muscles should you stretch?
Stretch the leg muscles:
But don't forget the upper body:
- trapezius muscles
- shoulders and deltoids
- arms (biceps, triceps)
- back muscles
Alternate the left and right side and antagonistic muscles. Go gently so as not to damage your muscle fibers. Do not stretch if you fear that you might have torn a muscle or if it is painful.
How long before you can start training again?
Your recovery time will depend on your fitness level after the race. The length of your nerve and muscle fatigue can vary. It depends on your metabolism, your post-race sports nutrition, and your level of rehydration.
You can begin running the day after the race or take 3 days' rest. Do not start again too quickly and do low-intensity jogging. Above all, the aim is to relax to encourage muscle recovery.
It sometimes takes a week to 10 days before you get back in shape and feel good trail running. Do not force yourself during this period or you may injure yourself or lose power and tone. Do not overtrain!
Then train again as normal, building it up gradually. While your performance has dipped, prioritize recovery and short sessions. It is also a good time to think about new projects... Which trail will be your next race?