The race is over. The hard run has left you tired and maybe it’s hard for you to stand up. The last thing you want to do is run more, however, your running is not over yet. You’ve got to run a cool down! Here are some pointers about running the cool down.
Why The Cool Down Is Important
The purpose of the cool down is to return your body to its pre-exercise level. It prevents muscle tightness and helps blood return to other parts of the body besides the legs and arms. In other words, the cool down helps prevent injury. If you skip the cool down, you might not be able to run in the days after the race.
How To Cool Down
Here’s a little guide on how to cool down:
Keep moving. Right after a race, try not to sit or lie down. Instead, keep walking around and make sure that your muscles do not tighten up.
Try to down some fluids. You will probably be very dehydrated after a race, so it’s important that you get some fluids into you as soon as possible. Trying to get hydrated will also help your cool down to be more productive because it is very difficult to do a quality cool down run if you are dehydrated.
When you feel like you can run again, go ahead and run about a mile nice and easy.
Stretch. It is just as important to stretch after a race as it is before because of the possibility of cramping. In my experience, when I stretch after a race, my muscles always feel much better the day after than they do if I slack off and don’t do any stretching. If you haven’t already, I recommend that you check out the stretching page. However, be careful not to overstretch. Your muscles are very fatigued after running a race, and stretching too hard can lead to injury.
Eat and Drink. Putting something in your body after a hard race can really help the recovery process. Drinking lots of water or Gatorade and eating bagels, raisins, bananas, or power bars can make you feel so much better.
Congratulate yourself. No matter if you were the 1st or 51st runner, you’ve ran as hard as you could and should be proud of yourself. If you had a bad race, try to learn from it and use your disappointment as motivation to train hard for your next race.
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