Congratulations! You just finished a 5k that you trained several days a week for over the last month. What should you do now that it’s over?
1. Continue Running
You worked hard to prepare and train for the race, now that’s it’s over you shouldn’t stop running altogether. If you are still sore from the race, give your body a few days to recover. Instead of running, try different low impact activities such as cycling or swimming. When you do get back to running try to run consistently each week to maintain your cardiovascular endurance.
2. Sign up for Another Race
Just because you completed a 5k race, doesn’t mean you should stop at just one. These short distance races are a great motivator for helping with weight loss, controlling diabetes, and managing stress. It’s also a fun and easy way to be active with friends and family. If you are goal-oriented or more competitive in nature why not up the ante and sign up for a 10k, 15k or half marathon?
3. Incorporate Resistance Training
Cardio is great for the heart and lungs, but your muscles need to be worked on to develop strength, prevent injury, and even improve your running mechanics. Even though this is a short distance race, including 2 days of weight lifting into your routine can provide benefits for muscle endurance, which will help your legs resist fatigue helping you to finish the race strong. Make sure to strengthen the hamstrings, abdominals with planks, outside of your hips, and even your upper back to keep them from getting weak. Don’t neglect the muscles you can’t see.
4. Retire your shoes
How long has it been since you bought a new pair of running shoes? Have your current shoes seen the recommended 300-500 miles? Having a good pair of running shoes makes a big difference in your running mechanics over time. As the shoe wears down, your body will start to take on more shock with each step. The investment is worth it if you need a new pair. It can also be helpful to have two pairs of the same shoe, so you can rotate them between races and training days. If you never have before, get your gait analyzed in your shoes by a professional to really determine if they are the right fit for you.
5. Don’t ignore your pain
If you’ve just crossed the finish line and have pain or discomfort, look around for a blue and yellow PT Solutions tent. If you see our tent, go speak to a physical therapist. Whether you think your shoes are the problem , or you have a more involved injury, PT Solutions physical therapist can help pinpoint where your pain is coming from. Once this is discovered they will help relieve your pain and work with you to design a treatment plan that heals you to your previous state before you injured yourself. If you don’t see physical therapists at your event, you can schedule a free injury screening at any PT Solutions Illinois clinic or anywhere near you.
Keith Tesch, CSCS, CNT, is the PT Solutions Body Solutions personal trainer for the Chicago area.