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What to Do After the Race - For Runners

After the race

Racing at all levels and any distance is necessarily a hard workout, so it is important that you cool down properly. As in training, walking or jogging slowly, followed by some light stretching is best and most efficient way to flush out lactic acids and other toxins and to restore your body's equilibrium. After a race such a marathon, you may feel so exhausted you won't want to cool down, and this is precisely the reason that you should.

Races up to a half marathon

After racing distances of 13.1 miles or less, you should walk or jog very slowly for at least 10 minutes to allow your heart rate to return to normal. Follow your cool down walk or jog with a series of light stretches to prevent muscular stiffness the next day. Then wrap up warm, drink water and relax.

Stay warm after a marathon

When you cross the finish line in the marathon, a race official will hand you a plastic blanket. Even if you don't want it now, you will later. Your body temperatures will drop quickly after the race, and that blanket may prevent hypothermia.

Keep moving

Cooling down after your race is essential: if you neglect your body's needs now, you will undoubtedly regret it later. Many runners unwisely sit down immediately after finishing a marathon, and will not be able to stand up again due to seized up muscles. To prevent this take a very slow, 10 to 15 minute jog, preferably with some other runners from the race. This sociable cool down will allow your body to flush out the lactic acids in your legs, while also giving you chance to tell your race story. Follow your cool down jog with a full series of stretches to speed up the healing process.

Eat and drink

Food may be the last thing on your mind after a grueling race, but try to make yourself eat something within two hours of finishing the race. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole meal bread or pretzels, will boost low sugar levels, and protein, such as smoothies or some turkey will help your muscles repair themselves. If you cannot handle the idea of food, try eating an energy bar, or at the very least have a sports drink.