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Q: How should I treat the week after a race if I’m preparing for a longer one in a month?
A: It is pretty common practice for athletes training for a half- or full Ironman to compete in one or more preparatory races. Because long-course races are such a tremendous undertaking, you should give yourself an opportunity to test things out, get a good feel for the effort that will be required on race day and discover any new-found strengths or limiters. So, how do we ensure recovery, yet also continue to prepare for the longer event, some weeks down the line?
Focus on the basics! The post-race week should allow you to concentrate on what really matters: sleep/rest, eating nutrient-dense foods, hydrating and maintaining a sound mind.
Sleep: In the week after a preparatory race get plenty of sleep in order to allow the body to generate the recovery-promoting compound HGH. Get eight to 10 hours, every night!
Eat: What you put into your body is just as important as the training that you do. After a race, focus on foods that are dense in nutrients and antioxidants. Fruits, veggies, lean meats, dairy, nuts and seeds help refortify your body and repair the damage done during racing. Beet juice can reduce the inflammatory effects of racing and cut recovery to a fraction of what it would otherwise be.
Drink: Drink 90 ounces of water per day—consuming above and beyond what is lost in sweat will flush toxins and help your body endure the rigors of training.
Think: The mind-body connection is undeniable. Recovery from races should center around this connection. Doing all of the above will ensure that the body is taken care of, will keep the mind sharp and will stoke the fire in your belly.