You’ve participated in an athletic race far from home, and you’ve put in an excellent performance. Before you can celebrate, however, you need to get on a long flight home or sit through a long drive. After the exertions of the race, you’d probably appreciate the chance to sit down and rest; your body needs to heal after a big race and needs ample blood flow to make it happen. Sitting motionless isn’t the best way to help the process, though. In this article, Christopher Lee, a fitness expert from Buffalo, New York, shares simple steps to guarantee better recovery if you need to travel right after an athletic event.
A study published in 2011 in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine reported that when endurance race participants such as marathoners get on long flights after a race, their bodies enter an acute hypercoagulable state — a condition in which the blood becomes much more prone to clotting. The older you are, and the longer your flight is, the higher is the risk. The risk tends to be the most pronounced when you need to take a long trip after an exceptionally long endurance event. Still, the concern does apply to a lesser degree to anyone traveling home from any strenuous sporting event that they’ve participated in. It can help to take the following steps when you need to travel after a race.
You may feel it’s a good idea for a post-race visit to the local bar for a few drinks to celebrate, but it’s best to skip the alcohol. Alcohol can be dehydrating, an effect that hinders recovery. It’s a better idea to drink up good-quality sports drinks or coconut water. Both tend to be rich in the electrolytes that your body needs to heal after a strenuous event. Whatever water-based drinks you may choose to hydrate with, you need to consume at least 16 ounces in the first 60 minutes after the race and continue to sip on it on your trip home. Your muscles need magnesium, potassium, and sodium to rebuild, and the right electrolyte-rich hydrating beverage can help supply your body with the nutrients necessary. Such drinks can also keep muscular cramps away.
Get some active rest
Active rest involves giving yourself a chance to walk around once in a while. If you’re taking a long flight home, you should think of getting an aisle seat to get up and walk around once every thirty minutes or so without disturbing your co-passengers. If you’re driving, aiming for ten minutes of walk every two hours on the road can help. Such exercise can promote blood flow through your limbs, and deliver nutrients to the body parts that need them to recover. It can help to continue such active rest for three days following your race.
Perhaps you have a window seat on the plane, or maybe you can’t stop the car once every couple of hours to take a walk because you’re driving at night, and you don’t feel that getting out of the vehicle is safe. In these circumstances, you could use compression stockings to help your muscles heal. If you’re prone to deep vein thrombosis, your doctor may recommend the stockings, too.
Make sure to eat well
Glycogen re-synthesis, an essential physical process involved in healing and recovery, requires plenty of carbohydrates and protein. You need to make sure that you have four grams of carbs to every gram of protein in the food that you consume after the event. You can get the nutrient balance recommended with enjoyable foods such as raw almonds, oatmeal, hummus, and fruit.
After a race, it’s essential to keep eating nutrient-dense whole foods that your body is used to. As much as you may love the idea of a greasy burger or a big pizza, your body after a race tends not to be ready for such foods. You might even upset your stomach. Instead, you want to put plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in your system, in the form of a proper, healthy diet. If you treat your body right a few days after the race, you’ll recover adequately, and be in great shape.
About Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee is a certified fitness trainer from Buffalo, New York. Christopher specializes in designing workouts plans for clients that make them look and feel more athletic, helping them avoid injury. Mr. Lee emphasizes a healthy diet and lifestyle so clients can fuel properly to get the most out of their workouts and reach their fitness goals. When he is not working with his clients, Christopher Lee can be found at a hot yoga class, practicing martial arts, or spending time with his friends and family in Buffalo.