January 21 2016
You just crossed the finish line—but don't stop there if you want your legs to recover.
If you’re a frequent visitor on Women’s Running magazine’s website, you already know that I ran the Boston Marathon this year. And as is the case for every goal race I run, my post-event emotions left me grasping at straws to find a new purpose. For the past two weeks, my purpose was buried in the aftermath of Boston as I made it a personal mission to understand a senseless, terrible act. Though I won’t forget Boston and continue participating in recovery efforts to benefit victims, it’s time to move on. And it’s time to let the healing begin.
Here’s how I survive (and thrive!) post race:
-Reconnect with friends and family. It’s no secret – training for a race requires dedication. The longer the distance, the more training time required, which means temporary M.I.A. status for social outings. With a less stringent schedule, I look forward to enjoying downtime with the special people in my life.
-Take time to smell the roses (or food, or whatever gets you going!). As runners, we sometimes develop a one-track mind with our eye on the finish line, while neglecting other interests or passions. Allowing myself to explore a new cookbook or tend to my unruly garden provides a good mental break from the stress I experience during race training.
-Stretch, massage, rest, repeat. As someone who is head-over-heels in love with running, I want to take care of my body so that I can run through my entire life. Racing (and all of the training that leads up to it) breaks muscles down, leaving them with tiny tears. These microscopic ruptures heal and when properly cared for, come back stronger than before. Though I try to stretch, massage, and rest my legs during training, it’s uber-important post-race. Let the pampering begin – yoga and a spa day do a runner wonders!
-Evaluate, plan, and register! In order to have focus, I am the type of person who has to have a goal. Without a plan, I grow restless and feel like I’m fumbling my way towards nothing. Post-race time allows me the opportunity to evaluate my performance, dream up new goals, and create a plan to achieve them. I know myself well enough to know registering for a race yields a higher level of training commitment. Whether I pick a new distance or set my sights on a shiny, new P.R. – having a plan is key.
There’s no doubt – developing a post-race strategy is just as important as a training plan for nurturing a healthy relationship with running.