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How to Recover from a 10K Race or Long Run

Sports Nutrition, a Cooldown, and Stretching are Prescribed for Success

© 2014 ; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile.

The Houston Marathon final miles; photo © 2014 KSmith Media, LLC

Most runners are guilty of improperly cooling down after a hard effort, whether it’s a 10K, weekend long run, or a tempo run. The temptation to get your breath back and to begin socializing and swapping race stories can be overwhelming.

But that’s not doing the body any good or helping to prepare for the next workout. But luckily for us, there’s a better range of options.

Rehydrate and Eat Some Carbohydrates

Even taking advantage of every water table during the race probably won’t keep the body properly hydrated, especially in warmer months. Grab a sports drink to rehydrate and replace some simple carbs and electrolytes.

The carbs will begin to replace expended glycogen and the gut will begin the rehydration process. More recent research has indicated that the optimal approach is to ingest a combination of carbohydrates and protein.

This replaces lost fluids, begins loading glycogen back into the liver and muscles, and begins the the healing of the ripped muscle micro-fibers. The exact carb/protein ratio is still the subject of debate, but most agree that you can’t go wrong with a tall glass of chocolate milk. Yum!

Go for a Cool-Down Run

This is a good time to rehash the race with friends and keep muscles limber with an easy jog. Keep in mind this is a recovery run, so take it easy. How far is a good distance? One or two miles should be fine. Anything longer than that just turns into another training session and that’s certainly not the objective here.

Not up for more running just yet? Fitness walking is fine. The important things are to gradually lower the heart rate and expel that built up lactic acid.

Relax and Feed Those Muscles

Above we covered taking in simple carbs. The recovery window in which this occurs is a full hour or less. This should be considered a small snack. After an hour, a meal of protein, complex carbohydrates, and health fats are in order for optimal running recovery.

Finally, do some light stretching before piling into the car and heading home. When you take your shower or bath, the cooler the water, the better. Before be in the evening do some more stretching. When the athlete takes care of the body, the body takes care of the athlete.

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