Traveling After Your Race? Here’s How to Recover Right

Gotta fly or drive after your race? You can do more than throw on compression socks and hope for the best. Here’s how to get where you’re going in top form. 

Eat

It never fails: Two hours post-race, you’re struck with an intense urge to eat all the things. (Pizza! French fries! Milkshakes!) The greasy indulgences found in truck stops and airport terminals sound good, but that doesn’t mean they’re your best bet for optimal recharging.

Kim Schwabenbauer, a pro triathlete and board-certified sports dietitian, says recovery-
friendly options are easy to find on the road if you follow some basic guidelines: “In general, you want a 4-to-1 ratio of grams of carbohydrates to grams of protein. Keep the fat in check, as fat slows absorption of carbohydrates.” Her picks:

Starbucks: Perfect oatmeal or Protein Bistro Box
Au Bon Pain: Vegetable Soup and a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter
Dunkin Donuts: Egg White Veggie Flatbread
Panera: Mediterranean Chicken Flatbread with a side of Greek salad

And don’t forget to hydrate. Immediately after your race, Schwabenbauer recommends gulping down anything that offers fluid and electrolytes, including sports drinks and coconut water.

Stretch

Sitting for long periods of time can make your post-race Frankenwalk even stiffer. Keep your muscles loose and limber with these in-seat stretches from Sita Hagenburg, co-founder of stretching studio Bendable Body in New York City.

Neck and Shoulders

Holding right arm at a right angle, palm facing in, drive arm away from center to contract and tense neck and shoulders while using left hand to bring right arm to center. Relax, return to start position and repeat for 8–10 reps per side. Photo: Oliver Baker

Hamstring and Glutes

Place right foot on seat of chair or right ankle on left knee, drive right knee away from center to contract lateral hamstring and glute. Maintain contraction and use both hands to bring right knee into body for the stretch. Relax, return to start position, repeat for 8–10 reps, and switch sides. Photo: Oliver Baker

Hip Flexors

Bring right knee up into body to contract and tense hip flexor. Maintain contraction and tension and use hands to press knee away from body for the stretch. Relax, return to start position, repeat for 8–10 reps and switch sides. Photo: Oliver Baker

Rest

It can be hard to fall asleep in the tight seats of economy class or in the passenger seat of your car. If a nap is elusive, don’t fret, says meditation expert and founder of Run Wild Retreats and Wellness, Elinor Fish. “Falling asleep can be hard because when you’re overtired and your body is depleted, but even short meditations can be just as rejuvenating as a nap.” Her go-to for a quick recharge:

1. Sit comfortably in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on your thighs. Close your eyes.

2. Take 10 long, deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling silently from the mouth. With each breath, release any tension you notice in your muscles, starting with legs, then moving up the thighs, buttocks, chest, arms, hands, neck and finally the face.

3. Return to a normal breathing pattern while remaining relaxed throughout your body. Maintain focus on being present. When thoughts pull your attention away, redirect your attention back to the present.

“When you’re thinking, your conscious mind is at work, evaluating, pondering, judging, anticipating,” says Fish. “Since your goal here is to rest deeply, take a break and let yourself settle into the subconscious mind. Even if your total time spent in that present moment state adds up to only a few fleeting minutes, it is powerfully rejuvenating to both the body and mind.”

For maxing your relaxing, block ambient noise with earplugs, listen to meditation music, or download a guided meditation. Fish recommends recommend Rod Stryker’s “Relax Into Greatness” recording ($18, Parayoga.com).