Don’t stretch after a race. Static stretching can actually do more harm than good by damaging your muscles.
Stay away from massages right after the race to avoid making your inflammation worse. This is contrary to what I’ve always been told–you want a massage to cleanse your body from lactic acid, but it’s best to wait for that nice massage for a couple of days.
Muscles repair typically at night, making protein the perfect food to eat before bed. Try eating a handful of nuts, a protein shake or even some tuna the night after a race.
Keep walking after you finish. While all you want to do is sit down after running for hours and hours, it’s best to keep moving your muscles or all the blood can pool in the legs.
Sleep. I didn’t consider this. I know 48 hours before the race is the best time to get a good night’s sleep to help you through the race, but sleeping after the race also benefits in helping your body recover. Try taking a nap as soon as possible and sleeping a couple of extra hours a night. You’ll relax the body and let it repair the muscles quicker.
Eat. This shouldn’t be too hard–you burned the calories and now you should replace them. Eat a meal with a mix of carbs, protein and vegetables for dinner the same night as the day of the race. You’ll need to feed your muscles so they can properly heal. While you want that burger with fries because you feel you earned it (which you did), try waiting just a couple of days to celebrate with bad calories. Your body is in a fragile state post race and you need to take care of it.
Happy race day!