1. Come to the race well prepared
2. Once you’ve finished, put your feet up
3. Eat to refuel and nourish your body
4. Keep hydrating, add electrolytes to your drinks
5. Take care of minor injuries, blisters and swelling
6. Reward yourself and thank yourself for an amazing finish
7. Sleep as much as possible
8. Rest in motion with non-impact training
9. Allow time for mental recovery- analyse, reflect and give your mind and soul time to heal
10. Don’t get back into intense training too quickly
When Crossing The Finish Line
1. Don’t Stop Taking Care Of Yourself During The Last Hour Of The Race
It’s very common to ignore taking care of ourself when we’re starting to get closer to the finish line. We’ve been good until then, managing nutrition, hydration and everything else going on from stomach issues, chafing, blisters and frequent toilet stops. We can’t be sure we will finish until we actually cross the finish line. A number of unexpected things can happen in an Ultra. Even during the last hours, or even minutes. So we should take good care of ourself during this time, as to not obstruct recovery. We don’t want to have too much of a calorie deficit to support our body, also we don’t want to fall into a state of hypothermia or severe dehydration, just because we stopped focusing on important running facts in the last hour.
We should keep eating, managing our hydration and sodium levels, and staying positive.
Once We’ve Crossed The Finish Line We should Not Do Anything Mindless
Keep moving. This is a very important and helpful things we should do once we finish. We shouldn’t stop immediately. We should try to walk for a bit, or even jog a few steps to bring our body down gently. Moving around for a bit once we finish will help prevent some of the stiffness and soreness we might feel.
We shouldn’t do things like forgetting to eat or drink.
We shouldn’t drink too much alcohol. A non-alcoholic beer is great for recovery, while alcohol only gives our body, and kidneys more toxins to take care of.
We shouldn’t take NSAIDs. We need to avoid taking any painkillers, especially those that are NSAIDs, since they affect our kidneys, which are already strained from the effort of running for so many hours or days.
2. Eat For Recovery
If we manage to keep our head in the race, despite running for hours and hours, we should focus towards refueling and nutrition, and not only junk food. We need vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fat and high quality carbs. The better we eat, the faster we will recover.
Once we have access to anti-inflammatory food, like turmeric, ginger, garlic, lemon, we should try to include this into our foods in the hours after finishing.
We should prepare food in advance to make it easier, high-quality smoothies with healthy greens, or super healthy cooked foods.
3. Keep Hydrating, Not Just Drinking
We should add salt, sugar and good vibes to our drinks.
This may be challenging, but during these important hours, right after the race, we should try to think of hydration as if we were still racing. Even though we’re not running anymore, doesn’t mean that we’re not dehydrated after an Ultra. We will need water, but also electrolytes.
Also we should have access to a bottle of water beside our bed, and for some runners maybe even salt tablets.
4. Ice-Cold Showers And Baths or Epsom Salt and Magnesium Oil
To take an ice cold bath or shower after finishing a race can help reduce inflammation and muscle pain. Or even to put our feet in a cold water bath will also be efficient.
For runners who can’t handle cold showers or baths, to take a bath with Epsom salt will also help reduce inflammation and help with recovery.
After our shower or bath, to massage our lower body with magnesium oil, will help reduce the inflammation and muscle soreness.
5. Take Care Of Blisters, Toe-Nails, Swelling And Injuries
If we can, we shouldn’t wait until the morning after a race to take care of any smaller injuries, since they might get worse. We should try to clean our feet properly, taking care of blisters, toe-nails pointing the wrong way and swelling ankles. If we wait, too long to take care of it, these minor issues may turn worse due to infection or unattended swelling.
Many ultrarunners love to wear compression tights or compression socks or both after an Ultramarathon. Wearing compression tights during our post-race recovery sleep will help for better sleep and avoid leg and muscle pain once we wake up.
If we manage to get a few hours of sleep after an ultramarathon, this will help our recovery immensely. But the common factor is that we might not get a good night’s sleep until the following night. Or even a few days depending on how long our race was.
Recovery During The Following Week
8. Rest In Motion
Good fast recovery doesn’t comes from sitting still. Our body needs to heal all of the million microscopical injuries that come from racing hard, and for this to be possible, we need a good circulation. Our body can’t get rid of all of the bad stuff unless we get our blood moving. So we should get moving, and walk more gently.
All non-impact training, like swimming, cycling, yoga, long walks, working out on a cross-trainer will be very good for recovery. But we shouldn’t go too hard or too long during the week after a big race.
If we feel like running, we can run for recovery , but only slow and short runs, 20-40mins slow and easy run is ok.
To perform Yin Yoga or Bikram- Hot Yoga, will help release the muscles with good stretching.
9. Mental Recovery
Every runner should be super happy after finishing an Ultra-race. Unfortunately, some runners get hit by “runner’s blues” after a long race. The longer and tougher the effort, the harder this depression might hit us. If we feel some stress and anxiety after an Ultra, this is what we should focus on to help.
Be proud. Try to nurture pride in everything connected to the race. Think of the effort you put in, the hours you spent on the trails and the number of blisters you got. And the numbers of toe-nails you’ll be missing. Even if the result of the race may not be what you expected or hoped for, you still should be proud.
Start looking for new races and start daydreaming about new challenges.
Reflect and analyse. Don’t forget that reflecting on the adventure you just experienced, is an important part of recovery. Write a race report and try to include your recovery into the report. This information will be invaluable when you plan your next race. Even to add all your nutrition and hydration details during the Ultramarathon will great information for the next Ultra.
Chat with a race running friend or any other runners you know. To talk about the Ultra- race and share some nice info will help feel so much more positive.
Allow yourself some down time. Just relax, read a book or perform some nice meditation. After and Ultramarathon, relaxing is very important, which will also help support your work schedule.
10. Don’t Get Back Into Training Too Quickly
Once you feel recovered and ready to take up training again, try to be smart. Just because you don’t feel sore anymore and all of the stiffness in your muscles are gone, it doesn’t mean you’re ready to start training hard again. There are joints, ligaments and tendons in your body that need time to repair.
You need to focus on many recovery days. Whatever the amount of days you choose to train in “recovery mode” it is good to train during this period. Just train smart. Do lots of non-impact training and focus on movement and easy runs. And try to enjoy your days of recovery, allowing your body and mind work their way up to being ready for your next challenge!
Focus On Good Recovery, Feel Better So You Can Enjoy Some Nice Recovery Runs Sooner!