10 Things To Plan For Post-Race
Post-race, you're going to want to do little other than sit down and celebrate, so sort the essentials out ahead of time to ensure you're able to relax as much as possible...
1. Cool-down routine
Few runners want to cool down at the end of a tough race, but your legs will thank you for it when you wake up in the morning. Having a routine in mind, rather than doing a few half-hearted quad stretches, will help to flush out lactic acid in your muscles and allow your heart rate to come down gradually - preventing dizziness and nausea. A proper cool down also has psychological benefits: giving you time to reflect on the race, what went right, what went wrong, and how you found the event in general.
An effective cool-down routine should include a couple of minutes of very gentle jogging, followed by a few minutes of running, then 15 to 20 minutes of full-body stretching. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, making sure you're stretching rather than pulling the muscles (it shouldn't be painful!).
2. Meeting point
The Vitality London 10,000 has a designated Meet and Greet point located within Green Park - this is the best place to meet friends and family after the race. The area is divided into zones marked A to Z, so all you need to do beforehand is agree on a designated letter and meet up there.
Not just for the sake of good hygiene, but because a post-race shower can work wonders for your aching legs. Switch between cold water and hot (not so hot that you burn yourself) for one minute each. The cold water constricts your blood vessels, while the hot water opens them up, which helps with the flow of recovery-assisting, oxygen-rich blood to your legs.
4. Change of clothes
Unless you're heading straight home, make sure you pack a change of clothes and some deodorant. You'll be glad to get out of your clammy running kit - don't worry, you can keep your medal round your neck - and the people of London will be equally grateful! Just avoid anything too restrictive, and keep your feet in comfortable trainers or an equally breathable/cushioned pair of shoes.
With more than 10,000 hungry runners due to cross the finish line, don't be too surprised if your post-race restaurant of choice is fully booked. To avoid wondering around Central London in a famished fury, either make a reservation several weeks before or have a good idea of exactly where you want to eat. And of course, usual post-run nutrition rules apply: whatever you treat yourself to, make sure it's preceded by a high-protein snack (at least 15g) to kickstart the recovery process.
While booking your travel in advance probably isn't the best idea (any number of delays can happen on Race Day), it's wise to have transport in mind ahead of time. For those new to London, the Citymapper app is your best friend for all travel around the capital. Simply input your start and end points, and the app will tell you the quickest - as well as quietest - routes to take.
If you're planning on staying in London but don't live here, accommodation should be sorted several months before in order to avoid the hike in event-related prices. Also, the capital is a big place, so check the location before you book - and avoid early checkouts to give yourself a well-deserved lie-in.
8. Treat yourself
Book yourself in for a spa day, or vow to buy that coat you've had your eye on. During the toughest weeks of training, having something to look forward to will spur you on - and when the time comes to claim your reward, your achievement will feel all the sweeter.
9. Recovery plan
This goes to all runners, but especially those who are new to the 10k distance: prioritise your recovery once the race is over. That means avoiding any high-intensity exercise for the next few days, but also have a longer-term plan in place that will give your body maximum chance of recovery. Don't do anything too strenuous the next day, but don't sit completely still either - a brisk walk or short, light jog will keep the blood flowing to your legs. In the week that follows, stick to low-intensity, low-impact exercises: cycling and swimming are two good options.
10. Your next race
Now that you've conquered 10k, the dizzy heights of the half marathon are within reach. But while building on your newfound endurance is one option, you could also aim to better your time over the same distance, opt for the short and sharp 5k option, or share the fun with a group event like an obstacle race or relay.