November 17 2017
Five years after admitting defeat during a high school race, this runner reflects on her eating disorder recovery.
Sara Hall continues to blow us away with her incredible Fitbit stats race after race, and NYC Marathon was no exception. Check out her stats below, as well as race recovery tips from her and husband Ryan Hall.
Replace calories and fluids as soon as possible after a race. You just caused serious trauma to your muscles and in order for them to heal, you need to replenish them with adequate hydration and nutrition. On average Fitbit users burn about 330 calories every 30 minutes when running and your Fitbit will tell you how many you’ve burned. Aim to take in 300 calories of carbohydrate (it can vary depending on the length and intensity of your race).
We also make sure to consume 20 grams (which can be more or less depending on your size and run intensity) of protein, usually in powdered form, for a shake. Whatever you choose, make sure your recovery nutrition isn’t high in fat, as that could slow digestive absorption.
The worst thing you can do is sit for several hours immediately following a race. Instead, it’s important to bring new blood to your muscles, to help flush any toxins that have built up, and speed recovery.
Once you finish a race, walk for at least 20 minutes, and if you’re up to it, try some light jogging. Do whatever feels right based on how much energy you have.
Soak your legs in contrast baths—meaning tubs with hot and cold water—within a couple hours post-race to boost blood flow. If you have two bathrooms in your home, you can fill one tub with a few bags of ice and cold water, and fill the second tub with hot water. If that’s not possible, opt for a 10-minute ice bath. Repeat the ice bath after another two or three hours. (Or you could make do with alternating cold and hot showers.)
If your budget allows, massage is one of the more pleasurable post-race recovery routines, and can be done instead of, or in addition to, your optional ice bath. If you can’t afford a professional massage, you can always recruit your significant other (Sara and I often work on each other) or get a foam roller and a softball and roll your legs out while watching a movie—a regular scene in the Hall house.
Time off is key. Ryan would often take two complete weeks off following marathons—he later decided to jog 30 minutes for two subsequent days after the race before taking my complete break, to help reduce soreness.
If you run a shorter race, you may not need two weeks—a few days of rest after a 5K would suffice, for example. Just make sure to only rest—which means no cycling, strength sessions, or other forms of cross training.
We track our steps on our Fitbits to make sure we’re resting and moving less in the days following a race.