I started running less than two years ago, and this past month, I signed up for my fourth half-marathon, which is helping me build courage (and strength!) for my first full marathon. Those first three races helped me learn so much about the training process, tips, tricks, gear, and recovery.
The best tip I ever received? Schedule a massage within a few days following your race.
There's a bit of debate over the window, some saying 24 to 48 hours, others saying three to five days — I personally follow the one-to-two-days rule. Whatever time frame works for you, just make sure you're getting that massage no later than a week after your big run.
It is so imperative that you care for your muscles and focus on postrace recovery as diligently as you focused on your prerace training. The race might be over in your mind, but your muscles haven't gotten the memo — let them down easy with extra hydration, electrolytes galore, a recovery beverage or shake, and most importantly, some massage therapy.
You probably don't need much convincing to schedule an indulgent, relaxing massage, but just in case, here are the benefits of a postrace massage:
- Reduced soreness (none of that "OMG, I'M SO SORE" the next few days).
- Increased circulation and blood flow to muscles.
- Promoted muscular healing.
- Injury prevention.
- Range of motion increased (no stiffness, no "I can't walk").
All of this adds up to one thing: you can keep doing what you love, with less pain.