For this year’s PCTR Headlands 50-Mile Ultra Trail Run and 1st Cebu 50K Ultramarathon Run, I experienced what they call “DOMS” (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) where you could barely walk because of muscle soreness and stiffness on my legs. This experience is very natural if I finish an ultra distance run.
In my own experience, after I cross the Finish Line, I usually rehydrate myself with any available fluids like, water, sports drinks and Cola. I stop drinking these fluids once my perspiration stops and that is the time I change to my dry clothes. While drinking these fluids, I see to it that I start to stretch my leg muscles like when after I do my regular running workouts.
After changing to dry clothes, the next step is to look for solid foods to ingest. It could be a combination of carbohydrates and protein with cola drinks. Eating solid foods should be done within 30 minutes after finishing the race! Research and journals would say that the body tends to absord the food at a faster rate within this window of opportunity. After eating solid foods, you should be able to rehydrate again.
Once I reach the house, I have to take an ice cold shower and/or immerse my body from the navel and the rest of your legs in a tub of ice cubes or ice water for about 10 minutes. If you don’t have a bath tub, immerse your legs in a big pail filled with ice-cold water and rubbing the rest of the exposed body with ice. This is done for about ten minutes in order to treat the soreness and inflammation of your leg’s muscle fibers. After this ice treatment, I can eat again and hydrate myself. It is nice to drink those powdered supplement with Whey Protein which I can mix with fresh fruits as part of my nutrition as it repairs “micro-tears” in my leg muscles.
It is also suggested to drink a couple of beer in cans (or bottle) while your legs are immersed in ice cold water or ice cubes. I don’t suggest this for runners like me who have high in uric acid in their body system or for those who have gout!
Next is for you to sit or lie down and elevate your legs. You can visualize and review what happened during the race and try to evaluate your performance. If you think you need to sleep, then by all means SLEEP!
As soon as you wake up, do some stretching exercises for about 20-30 minutes and then take a shower. Eat and rehydrate again. And then try to get some sleep again.
After 24 hours, it is not necessary to do your 30-minute recovery run as you can still feel some tightness and soreness to your leg muscles. Instead, do some 20-30 minutes of your stretching exercises and then take a warm shower. Take your Protein drinks and eat a lot of fresh fruits.
It is only after 48 hours that you can do your 30-minute active recovery run at your slowest pace. Don’t try to increase your pace during recovery runs. The slower your pace is, the better! The 30-minute run will be enough to warm-up your leg muscles and have your body perspire.
It is on the third day that you can apply massage to your legs and to your body. It is a very painful massage if you opt for a “deep-tissue” massage but the healing effect for your muscle soreness will be faster.
Don’t forget to maintain your body intake for your nutrition and hydration. Do some stretching exercises for 20-30 minutes, at least twice a day, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon. You must be able to sleep at least 8 hours during nighttime and if possible, take a nap during daytime.
On the 4th day, you can be back to your easy runs. And after 7 days, you can run a Marathon Race, just to finish the race!