What happens after you cross the finish line? Here’s our tried and tested Comrades Recovery Plan.
Hobbling with a medal around your neck and a beer in hand to the nearest empty patch of grass to collapse onto is hardly a recovery plan. So, to give you alternate ideas we are sharing the things we have used to recover.
It took three years, but on the third try, I nailed my post Comrades recovery game. It didn’t completely eliminate the hobbling or extreme leg pain (and let’s be honest part of Comrades is milking the post C hobble for all its worth), but I felt a lot better and was much more mobile than in previous years.
This year I’ll be watching from the couch, but if you’ll be on the road this can help you once you’ve gotten to the finish.
Post Comrades Recovery Toolkit
These are the items that were part of my Comrades Recovery Plan. Make sure you secure all the tricky items (like your support crew) before heading down to Durban.
A Patient and understanding support crew
My recovery plan started in the middle of Comrades. At two points along the route (around 30km and 60km) I got a mini water bottle of PeptoSport given to me, which contains both protein and carbohydrates. (Read more about what it can do for you here.)
The night before Comrades, I’ll make one serving and split it between 2 mini empty water bottles. This gets put into the freezer to freeze solid so they’re cold by the time it gets to me (it doesn’t need to be in a cooler bag, you want it to be liquid to drink). To make it easier for the person who is seconding/supporting you, label them with the name of the point you want them to give it to you at. This way they have it ready to hand to you as soon as they spot you.
Adding PeptoSport to my race fueling plan has made a huge difference to me because I struggle to eat anything (gels, bars) during races, especially Comrades. But drinking is easy, so if you’re like me, rather choose something that can double up with the nutrients you need.
I have also found PeptoSport to be a lot lighter than common recovery drinks. Its consistency is closer to a sports drinks or juice. It is more refreshing and has a bitterness to it (from the protein hydrolysate), which during Comrades, when my taste buds are sensitive to sweetness, is perfect. It’s also been easy to digest and I’ve never experienced issues when using it.
*NB – If you haven’t included a recovery drink during training runs/races, Comrades isn’t the place to try it for the first time. You will also need family/friends to deliver it to you on the route.
At the finish line
At my pre-Comrades family “briefing”, my family gets a recovery cooler bag to bring to the finish. Inside is cold water, a recovery drink, coke, pretzels and biltong. I have also included dark chocolate but in the three years of putting it in the bag, I haven’t had the inkling to eat it once. All the drinks are frozen the night before and kept in a cooler bag so they’re cold by the end of a long day in the sun.
I generally have no appetite the first few hours after finishing, but I will force myself to drink a recovery drink. The sooner you get proper nutrients in your body, the better your recovery will be. My recovery drink of choice is usually either 32Gi Recover or PeptoSport.
If you have a sensitive stomach after long runs or don’t feel hungry I’d suggest PeptoSport, as it’s a lot easier to gulp down. The 32Gi Recover has a thicker and grainier texture which makes me feel fuller. If you arrive at the finish hungry, it’s a great choice.
In the Car back to your Accommodation
The drive back to where you’re staying can be incredibly long (especially if you are staying closer to the start, i.e. Durban on the up run). This is usually where I start getting hungry. I snack on pretzels and biltong (I find them most palatable after Comrades) with some water and coke if I’m feeling nauseous.
As soon as I’ve arrived back at the place I’m staying, I’ll (make someone in my family) run an Epsom Salt bath. It’s 2 big handfuls of Epsom Salt into the running water and I’ll sit there for 30 minutes and then properly bathe to get clean.
After the bath, I slather Arnica Ice on my legs and pull on Compression tights. I use a pair from CWX that have lasted years. Arnica Ice lives up to its name and shortly after applying it you are suddenly freezing, so either have a warm blanket on hand or a hot water bottle.
If you have a particularly kind family member (or are enough of a drama queen), you may even get your hair blow dried for you so you don’t have to sit around with wet hair.
Once I’m dressed I’ll eat a proper meal, which is usually a chicken sandwich. I also mix an electrolyte tab with a glass of water and drink that to help with dehydration and I find it makes me feel better. Lastly, I’ll have a K-Fenak – which helps reduce inflammation and then I try to get some sleep.
If your legs feel incredibly uncomfortable, I’ve found that sleeping with a pillow between my legs (at the knee point) helps.
Want more Ideas for recovery?
April was Rest & Recovery month on Nutreats and amongst other tips, we shared:
Our rest & Recovery Shopping guide (includes where to get the best hot water bottle and cheapest Epsom Salts).
How Maca Powder can help you recover faster (including a great post-race hot chocolate recipe).
What are your go to post race recovery steps?