Obstacle courses are a lot of fun but they can take it out of you! After all, how many of us regularly spend such an intense amount of time jumping over, under and through things? And don’t forget the bruises! It’s not unlikely you’ll step into the shower or bath that evening and realise that your legs and arms are spotted with scratches and the beginnings of unsightly bruises.
Having spent many hours as part of the #hellofitty team trying out different obstacle course races we’ve got our recovery down to a T and so we thought we’d share our 10 Tips for a quick recovery after an obstacle course race:
Have a hot drink after. Most obstacle course races involve some kind of ‘water feature’ where a full or partial drenching is required. If you’re lucky enough to escape this, it’s likely that you’ll be sweaty. Either way, this means that you’ll get cold quickly. There’ll be tea and coffee for sale at the finish line but queues may be long so ensure you pack yourself a thermos flask with something yummy. It can even be hot chocolate or soup.
Get changed immediately. Depending on your race, if you’re wet through then getting out of soggy clothes is vital. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to put on warm, dry clothes. And yes that does often mean changing your underwear too. Most races will have tents that act as changing rooms and from what we’ve experienced, most people just whip their dirty clothes off and put their clean clothes on – don’t expect any privacy.
Stretch out. You’ll finish the race and then spend some time looking for the rest of your group, finding drinks or food or going for lunch. Stretching will be the last thing on your mind but it will help you walk the next day. All you need is a good 5 minutes stretching your neck, arms and legs.
Roll out the next day. If you’ve got a foam roller, use it. And remember to roll towards the heart. Yes, it can be boring and yes, it’ll be painful but if you want to be feeling like new again it’s essential for a quick recovery. Also, different races will work different muscles so don’t just focus on your legs, work your back, shoulders and neck too. If you’ve not got a foam roller, that’s no excuse. Use an empty wine bottle (make sure the surface you’re rolling on is carpeted) and try sitting on a tennis ball to massage your glutes.
Eat something warm, ideally something with protein. It may be the sunniest day but warm food is still beneficial! And get some protein in you – with all the exercise you’ll have been doing you’ll need it for muscle recovery.
Drink lots of fluid. This is most important, along with getting dry. If you’re lucky enough to have water passed out along the way, you’re unlikely to be drinking more than enough to whet your dry mouth. Even if the day’s cool, you’ll be sweating a lot and losing fluid.
Congratulate yourself. You’ve just completed something that most people haven’t. Whether you’re a fitness bunny or someone who has really worked to get through the course, you’ll have found it challenging either way. And you’ll have had fun. You may even have completed it for a good cause and raised money. Either way, well done.
Give yourself enough time to recover. If you are doing an especially tough race make sure you have a clear day after – they can be really draining and the last thing you want to do is feel terrible at work. The day after your race should be when you soothe all your tightening muscles.
Get clean – take a good long shower or bath. Lots of races include mud and dirty water. You’ll find bits of sand and dirt in the most unpleasant and unexpected places. If you suffer from sensitive skin, it’s vital to cleanse properly. We especially like Pretty Athletic’s Cool Down Purifying Facial Cleanser.
Tend to any injuries or bruises immediately. When you’re racing it’s hard to notice scratches and bruises and it’s only when you’re in the shower that evening that you’ll spot them. Clean scratches, put ice packs on bruises in the first 24 hours and then keep them warm after.