Endurance Event EssentialsApril 1, 2018
Endurance Event EssentialsApril 1, 2018
Crossing the finish line of an endurance event is such an incredible feeling, however that overwhelming feeling of euphoria and pride is often accompanied by sweat, complete fatigue and the underlying knowledge that you will be most likely walking like the Tin Man with a sad case of the sniffles for the next week.
Strenuous exercise for periods longer than 90 minutes places a huge stress on the human body. Alongside the strain on muscles, organs and joints, a rise in the hormone cortisol triggers the fight-or-flight response and weakens the body’s immune system. In fact, the 72 hours after crossing the finish line is known as the ‘window of opportunity’ where our defences are down and opportunity for infection is high.
If you’re anything like me, you will be keen to get back out there and tackle the next challenge as soon as possible. However, a good race recovery plan can make all the difference in avoiding injury and improving future performance. So it’s time to roll out the red carpet for that body of yours. Take some time to follow these 5 steps to get you moving again.
Hydration plays a vital role in muscle repair and recovery. Strenuous exercise often results in muscle tears and injuries. Water helps rebuild muscle through a process called protein synthesis. Studies show that dehydration prolongs this process. Muscle soreness typically lasting 12-24 hours, known as Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS), is also found to be increased in severity and duration when dehydrated. Avoid alcohol during the 7 days after the race as it can dehydrate you and place unnecessary stress on the body.
A favourite of mine, Yin Yoga has a host of benefits for the body and mind to assist in a speedy recovery. A 60-minute practice consisting of poses typically ranging from 3-5 minutes each can improve circulation, flexibility, joint mobility and myofascial release while reducing stress and anxiety.
Ice baths, heat & Epsom salts.
During an endurance event, there is often cellular damage that accompanies DOMS and fatigue you may experience. Effective use of temperature variation has been shown to reduce recovery time by assisting in muscle repair.
A post-race ice bath (brave face on) is shown to constrict blood flow, help remove waste products, reduce swelling and tissue breakdown. The good news is that a quick 10-15 minute bath using water from the cold tap only (not actually adding ice) will be cold enough. Phew! After you get out, the muscle tissue warms, circulation increases and the healing process can begin.
In the 1-7 days following the event, heat can be used to speed up the muscle recovery and repair. Add 3 cups of Epsom salts to a warm bath and soak for 10-15 minutes before bed. Epsom salts are thought to relieve pain and muscle cramps, reduce stress and improve muscle and nerve function. For best results finish up your day with a light stretch.
Refuelling post-event is important to replenish energy stores, increase protein synthesis and reduce protein breakdown, essentially, repairing any damage and rebuilding muscle tissue. After crossing the finish line, aim to consume carbohydrates and proteins in a 4:1 ratio to reduce the severity of DOMS, shorten recovery time and improve immune function.
Although the 60 minutes post-event are found to have the greatest impact on recovery, good nutrition for the following week is also important for a quick recovery. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, good fats, protein and complex carbohydrates.
Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep! Thankfully all four points above will contribute to quality deep, restorative sleep, which is a must for a speedy recovery after endurance events. Aim for 7-10 hours of sleep with the focus on sleep quality.
Be patient and show yourself some love during the weeks after your endurance event. Develop a solid recovery plan to make sure you bounce back after that all-important event.
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