Six years ago I ran my first marathon, Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. After the race I got in the car with my family and drove to Florida. I popped the max recommended dosage of Advil all the way down there, and for days afterward. My legs were really sore and I didn’t know any better. I didn’t ice. I didn’t wear compression gear. I just took my Vitamin I and assumed that was what I should be doing.
I did a good amount of walking as we were visiting Disney World, so at least I helped the blood flow to my legs, albeit drug-carrying blood. Of course, since we were at Disney I ate junk for 4 days, which certainly didn’t help. I was sore for at least a week, probably more. I assumed this was normal.
Six years on I am older (duh) and wiser. Post-race I ice and put on compression socks or tights. I do not take ANY ibuprofen. At all. Numerous studies have shown that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen actually delays your body’s natural recovery. (Just google it…)
After I ran The North Face 50K, which by all accounts was a painful venture, I focused on resting, icing, and taking anti-inflammatory foods. I knew of a few, such as tart cherries and turmeric, but I googled “Anti-inflammatory foods” to find others and came across a great site called The Conscious Life that lists the top 10 anti-inflammatory foods and their benefits.
First up I made a smoothie with papaya and blueberries while sipping on some green tea. Then, for dinner, I made tofu stir fry with broccoli, mushrooms, and ginger. I ate that with some quinoa which has a lot of protein, great for muscle recovery.
The result? I have had the best long distance recovery ever. And this was my longest event by 35 minutes. The day after the race I was predictably sore, going down the stairs backwards, etc. But the following day I was pretty much back to normal. I biked for over an hour and felt great. By Wednesday, 4 days post-race, I was hammering through a time trial on the bike, and on Friday I rode 35 miles at a good clip.
I think what also helped was my pre-race eating and hydration. I was sure to take in plenty of salt in the days prior to the race. I salted all my food and ate some sodium-rich soups. I hydrated well, alternating nuun and water. During the race I drank almost 140 oz of fluid, over 20 oz per hour, which is a lot for me. The weather was cool, which also helped. I know I was well hydrated because 1) when I weighed myself when I got home I had gained weight, and no, I did not make a fast food stop on the way home… and 2) I peed A LOT during the 2 days post-race. I know, you really wanted to know that.
What do you eat/drink post-race?
Are you a (former) NSAID pill popper?