The race is over. The temptation to throw your running shoes back into the wardrobe until next year's Dubai Marathon, kick back on the sofa and watch some television is strong. But seriously, hold that thought.
There can be a million outcomes from race day, both positive and negative. There are things that you have no control over – perhaps there was not enough preparation, or your race tactics were off. And sometimes, everything leading up to the race can be perfect, but on the day, it just doesn’t work out.
You can't be too hard on yourself if this is the case. You have made it through the task you aimed for months ago, you crossed that line and have the medal to prove it. There is nothing but positivity that can be and should be taken from that achievement. Not every race feels like a dream, not every race is a personal best.
One way I like to look at it is that the finishing line of one race is the start line of another. Why not build on the results and fitness you have achieved? Let's take a step back (if your legs will let you). How is your body feeling? A big part of race preparation that is often missed is the post-race recovery, those 72 hours after a race are a window in which to build that body back up in a safe way – or we can increase the risk of injury and illness once we start to get back on the fitness journey.
After all the training, the nerves of race week, the adrenaline of race day and the outcome of pushing your body through the run, you will have to deal with a comedown, emotionally and physically. Sometimes it is very common to get flu-like symptoms as your body tries to readjust its hormonal balance. So, rest, rehabilitation and diet is key. Take care of yourself.
Nourish the body with big plates of nutritional food filled with fruit, vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates. These will contribute to rebuilding the body from the work you have just done. They will also protect the immune system, fighting off illness, giving the body building blocks to re-energise the muscles and mind. In the first 24 hours, water and some electrolytes are the best way to rehydrate the body. Even though the temperature of race day may have felt chilly, your body would still have sweated out the mineral-filled fluids used for everything from muscle function to nerve activity. Don’t believe me? After the run, do you have a dry, white powder-like feel on your skin? Once the sweat has dried, it will leave this sodium behind. So, we need to put it back in; sodium, potassium and magnesium are a few of the minerals we need to replenish.
The common misconception is you will sleep like a dream the night after a race. Most of the time this is not true, as your body may be feeling too sore to be able to relax. This is commonly known as delayed onset muscle soreness.
To limit DOMS, there are a few approaches to try. Firstly, stay away from any anti-inflammatories, let your body recover as naturally as possible. I will always have an ice bath after a race when I get home, and then relax eating my favourite treat, wearing some compression tights. I am not saying this will work for everyone, but it works for me. Another big one for me after 48 hours is booking a sports massage. Any form of massage before that time frame would be too painful and your body may not respond well. Most decent therapists would also follow this timeline.
So now the recovery is done and we are rested. What comes next? Well, to be honest, it can be anything you want it to be. Some of you reading may never have dreamt that you could achieve what you did by crossing that finishing line. No matter the time or result, the effort you made to become healthy and stronger can never be devalued, so be proud. My advice is rest up and continue running when you have recovered. Don't stop now that you've made it this far. I'd love to see all of you join me for a run at Adidas Runners Dubai. Sign up for fun and social runs with me and the crew here.
Lee Ryan is the captain of Adidas Runners Dubai, a professional athlete, record-breaking endurance runner and a personal trainer working with the likes of Arsenal F C. Not only has he set four Guinness World Records, he's a keen marathon runner – his fastest time is two hours and 58 minutes
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