Racing is an all out effort. It is all-in mental work. It is all nerves and neuromuscular activation. If you’ve trained properly, rested properly, paced and executed correctly you can should be able to give your all !!! In racing we should give as much, that when we arrive to the finish line, basically we would have had only 5 seconds more left till collapse. This is why this every weekend racing 52times a year stuff, was not existing before. Racing was not a touristic activity but a real measure of self and a comparison to others.
I feel that knowing all this, we must understand that after an event we are in high supercompensation. To let the new fitness level settle in, to arrive to our new higher homeostatic state, we need to rest and relax and we need time. Also connective tissue, muscles, the lungs and heart, the nervous system and the immune system are all in a very much compromised state. Injury risk is super elevated. Impact, intensity, cold, emotions all can harm you and send you down to a black hole.
What do I like to do in the 3 days following a race ?
I really like easy yoga and pilates movements, dynamic flexibility and cord stretching (Warthons). I do not force myself. I just do 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there. It might be 10 or 15 times a day. In this way, my body gets a reminder of how it should be functioning normally. I like to take a big walk everyday. That is epic. It is a faster than normal rhythm, but not an all out speed walk. I really enjoy nordic walking. That is just epic. Upper body, lower body. Both work in harmony.
Most importantly I calm myself. You are very fit. You ran well. Now rest needed. No need to rush back to training. Chill. Enjoy. Recover that nervous energy. You are a living creature. Sleep ! Breathe !
I can attest that back in the day, I was all jittery to not to run the next day after a race. I never stopped and never took a day off from running. Mileage was everything. However I can surely say now, that taking 2 – 3 or even 5 days off of running after a race, maybe doing some cross training, would have resulted in overall better race results, less health issues and a even higher total yearly mileage ! Maybe some light cross training of walking, cycling and swimming could have been better. I do that now and feel better now and ever. My long runs are easy and long and recover from them very well. I don’t go out for over 90min anymore without water and sugar and so on. There are principles that we learn during the years and decades of training. I’d like to transfer these principles to future generations and make them understand what should be done to be better long term.