On top of a massage, an ice bath is a rare but welcome treat for your body. It might not be pleasant at first, but submersion in ice will bring down any possible joint swelling and will alleviate some pain.
Be sure to eat a good meal that night. You want to provide your body with plenty of protein so it has the tools and fuel to start rebuilding the muscles you tore down during your effort that day.
The Next Day
- Active Recovery
More recovery? Of course, the body doesn't completely recover from a race-level effort in 12 hours. You need to help it so that you can get back into your training cycle healthy, strong, and injury-free.
First, you need to get moving. Pry yourself off the couch, away from the PS3, and make those protesting muscles take you on an easy, slow, no pressure, no worries run. You want to get out long enough for everything to loosen up.
No hills, no sprints, no stress. And when you're done, stretch again. Breath-controlled stretches are best, where you inhale, then visualize your focus muscles relaxing on each long exhale.
Abnormal pains after a race can be expected. Don't freak out. Ice and try to relax. If the pain persists for three days, contact your doctor. Also, if you suffered any normal injuries, blisters, road rash, chafing, let those heal before trying to get back out there. Training on a bike or in a pool will allow healing without sacrificing fitness.
More: Beat the Post-race Blues
Most importantly, listen to your body. Over the course of training for your event, you should have developed a good feel for what your body is trying to tell you. If it says it could use another day off, take another day.
Think long-term. You don't want to get out on the road right away only to be sidelined with an injury. Trust yourself and you'll be back out training and racing in no time.
Special thanks to Summer Blunden, ATC, CSCS for consultation.Sign up for your next 10K race.