It’s important to drink lots of water after the race and in the following days. Look for sparkling drinks rich in alkaline mineral salts like bicarbonate, potassium and magnesium, and add some freshly squeezed lemon juice (citrate). Avoid alcohol as much as possible.
Eat, but don’t overdo it
You can celebrate your victory with a few good hearty meals, rich in carbohydrates and proteins. However, don’t go overboard on quantity or on alcohol. Opt for a Mediterranean-style anti-inflammatory diet including fruit, green vegetables, fish, white meat and essential fatty acids like omega-3s (in nuts, oily fish, canola oil).
Get plenty of sleep
Although rest is essential, staying slumped on the sofa isn’t a good idea. A stationary position will let toxins (lactic acid) accumulate. It’s better to get some good nights of restorative sleep to aid recovery. Foods rich in tryptophan can help favor sleep, as they boost melatonin. This amino acid is found in bananas, salmon and tuna, ham, dairy products, dried fruit and wholegrain cereals.
Avoid impact sports for a month
For effective recovery, go easy on lower limbs as much as possible. Blood needs to circulate in order to flush out toxins and help aches and pains in the legs recover. Try lower-intensity activities like cycling, elliptical training and swimming.
Massage and steam room
Massages can be highly beneficial to relieve aching legs and general stiffness, boost blood circulation and speed up the elimination of waste products from the body. Anti-inflammatory arnica oil is recommended for athletes. However, you should wait two to three days after the race before getting a massage, as muscle fibers are still broken. If you’re looking to relax, try a session in the sauna or the steam room, but wait a few days so as not to accentuate dehydration caused by water loss during the race.
Professional athletes often use cryotherapy to aid recovery. This technique uses low temperatures to help the body recover from the microtrauma caused by long and intense physical effort. The technique, which is becoming increasingly accessible to amateurs, consists of plunging lower limbs into a mix of water and ice (between 2°C and 10°C) for short periods.