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Maximizing Performance, Sports Medicine

Post-Race Recovery

Post Race Recovery

The Four Rs To Follow After The Finish Line


Whether you finished your first 5k, fourteenth triathalon, or intense endurance training, adequate recovery is imperative to restoring your body’s health. Recovery begins the moment you cross the finish line.

CAUTION: Rhabdomyolysis, a serious medical condition which may cause kidney failure, can occur after long periods of extreme exertion and heat exposure. Symptoms include muscle weakness and/or stiffness, fatigue, and red or dark-colored urine. If you suspect you may have rhabdomyolysis, call your doctor immediately.

Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled program. My four ‘Rs’ on the road to recovery are: refuel, rest, recover, and reflect.


After you cross the finish line, your focus should be cooling down and replenishing your body’s glycogen (energy) stores with a mix of carbohydrates and protein. Most races provide food for racers at the finish line – fill your body with foods like bananas and peanut butter or sub sandwiches with meat and veggies. If you can’t stomach food 30-60 minutes after your race, grab some chocolate milk or a sports drink. Most importantly, fill your body with water – lots of it. One way to make sure you’re getting enough water is to weigh yourself pre and post race. Any weight lost after the race is due strictly to fluid loss. Don’t be a raisin – re-hydrate!!


This may be self-explanatory, but many forget to do this! Don’t plan on moving out (trust me, I made this mistake. #amateur), having a garage sale, or really anything that requires mental or physical exertion beyond your resting baseline the day of or after your race. Book yourself a massage a few days out (when your body aches are less sensitive to touch and pressure). Stretching and ice are your best friend. Foam rolling is a cheap, convenient recovery tool that is a similar to a combination of stretching and massage. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as Advil® or ibuprofen can be used for muscle aches and cramping, making sure you are aware of the symptoms of rhabdomyolysis. If you need more direction, race training guru Hal Higdon has some ‘zero-week’ rest and recovery plans on his site.


If you are still achy or think you may have an overuse injury after resting, it’s time to visit Dr. Nall! Mild muscle and joint pain may benefit from Osteopathic Manipulation (OMT). Tension in your head, neck, spine, and hips are commonly associated with training and exercise programs. OMT helps relieve this tension, helping your body maintain its function and mobility. Common running injuries such as runner’s knee (patellar tendonitis) and muscle strains should be evaluated sooner than later by a physician specializing in orthopaedic medicine to prevent further damage.


Recovery is just as much mental as it is physical. Take time to reflect on your accomplishments: What did you enjoy? How did you feel after the race? What worked well for you? What can be done to better your time or experience in the future?

Did you participate in a race? Please share your story! We want to hear about your race accomplishments!

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Village Osteopath
15510 Herriman Blvd
Noblesville, IN 46060
(317) 491-5272
(317) 324-3183 (fax)