When we think about planning for a long-distance race, we think of pre-race as well as during-the-race factors. We seldom plan about the post-race conditions and recovery. In fact, that could be as important as other things, especially when you want to keep running and racing over a long period.
On the eve of a race, when I start packing my bag, I envisage the things in reverse order. I make a list of things I would need post-race first and pack them before anything else. The things I would need during the race goes next and then comes what I would need before the start of the race.
Here is what I consider as the must-carry items in my bag after the race:
Rehydrating after the race is of utmost importance as water keeps the muscles lubricated, helps carry the nutrients to them and keeps the core temperature regulated. You may argue there is water available at the finish area, but often we fail to consider the fact that there is a long way back home after the race and you do not want to be thirsty during the journey back home. Carrying a bottle also is more environment-friendly. You could re-fill the bottle instead of drinking from paper cups or buying packaged water.
●Recovery Drink or Food
Strenuous activity like a long-distance race is going to result in muscle breakdown. There is damage to tissues. Those tissues and muscles need to be repaired and you want to start on rebuilding almost instantly. Recovery drinks or food rich in protein can help start the process. Now there are multiple solutions when it comes to the recovery drink or meal. One can try out various things and figure out what works best.
●Change of Clothes with Windcheater or Jacket
Post your run, your sweating profusely with sweat dripping from your temples and neck down, making your tee stick to you like glue. Your immune system has taken a beating during the race and you do not want to catch a cold or get sick. One thing you must do almost immediately changes into fresh clothes and put on a
windcheater. It will also ensure more people embrace you whole-heartedly after the run.
●Sandals or Chappals
Your shoes hugged your feet quite well and protected them while you were pushing to the maximum. But now the feet need to feel free and breathe a bit. Even the shoes need space and time to regain their shape before they are ready for the next run.
Packing these things prepares me mentally not just for the race but for the recovery also. That ritual becomes as essential as anything else I do to achieve my race goal.