Stretching is an essential part of recovery after a big event.

Recovering after a Big Fitness Event: How to Build on Your Gains

You’re coming off a high from finishing a virtual event such as the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon or 5K. Whether you achieved a new goal or just had fun getting in shape, that’s an achievement to celebrate. But now what?

The truth is, knowing how to recover is just as important as knowing how to race. According to physical therapists and sports medicine experts, it’s not in our workouts that we become better athletes, it’s in the time between them. That means if we don’t take the time to rest or help our depleted bodies recover, we actually limit our gains. And continuing to overdo it can lead to worse – many runners find themselves coming down with colds or even the flu post-race if they don’t take care of themselves. Here’s what to do to maintain and build on the gains you’ve made.

Rest Up

Feel like you deserve a few days of rest before you get back to pounding the pavement? That just might be your body telling you that’s what it needs. Hit the road or treadmill too soon, especially if you’re sore, and you may risk injury or at the very least have an overtiring and frustrating workout. The good news is, ysou’re not going to lose your hard-earned endurance and fitness levels by taking a few days off.

Walk it Off

If you feel the desire to move or want to keep from getting stiff, make time for a walk. Add in some stretching before and after, but don’t go overboard; you’re still giving your muscles time to recuperate.

Loosen Up

Massage is a great way to recover from a sports event and keep from stiffening up. If you’re experiencing soreness in muscles or joints, soothe them with alternating ice and heat.

Explore Emotions

Don’t worry if you feel down or even a little depressed after the big race. You put your body through a lot of stress to push past that finish line. And the huge release of endorphins you experience during a big run is naturally followed by a dip. Also, also after so much hard work and preparation, you may feel a little lost until you get back into a new routine.

Plan Your Next Event

The best way to maintain your momentum and enthusiasm is to begin planning for your next running event. Luckily, for those who live here in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are several running events coming up that are perfect follow-ups.

On Sunday, March 4th, you can choose between the Livermore Half Marathon & 5K and the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon, which also includes a 5K event. On Sunday, March 25th, Join thousands of runners and walkers at the Oakland Running Festival and Marathon, which also includes a half marathon and 5K. And ladies, the Kaiser Permanente Women’s Fitness Festival in Sacramento offers 10K and 5K options as well as a host of other fun activities.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.