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A 5k run can be a grueling experience for a first-time participant, with the postrace effects of the run often more painful than the race itself. With a proper cooldown, stretching, hydration and nutrition, you can greatly reduce the negative effects of a long run on your body. Add a massage, and the next day you may not even remember you ran the day before.
Cool down after your race with slow walking -- don't stop cold after your run, especially if you ran all the way to the finish line. Walk slowly after you cross the finish line, taking as much time as you need to let your breathing and heart rate get back to normal. Do this while you move your muscles. Move your upper body, which assisted you during your run, by raising and lowering your arms to let your body cool down while you move your legs.
Hydrate with water and a sports drink, even if you drank during your race; you might not have been able to replenish all of the water you lost. This is especially true if you ran in hot weather and sweated profusely. Drink plenty of cool water after your race, over a course of 30 minutes or more. One long drink won't be enough to properly hydrate you. Drink chilled, rather than iced, water to get fluids into your muscles faster and help lower your body temperature.
Eat and drink to restore depleted stores of fat, glycogen and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. Aim for a ratio of carbohydrates to protein of 4:1 after your run, recommends sports nutritionist Clete McLeod, the director of strength and conditioning for Southern Illinois University. Drink a sports drink that contains carbs and electrolytes to help restore important nutrients. Believe it or not, low-fat chocolate milk is a good postexercise drink because it contains some fat, beneficial amino acids and electrolytes such as calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium.
Perform a thorough stretch of all your muscles after you have cooled down. Running shortens your muscles, and stretching them and holding the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds will help lengthen them. Get a thorough massage, which can help reduce postexercise inflammation, according to research published in "Science Translational Medicine." Take advantage of an onsite massage tent, if one is available, or preschedule a postrace massage at a private location before your race.
Don't run or perform vigorous physical activity for at least two days after your race to give your muscles a chance to recover. When you exercise, you damage, not strengthen, muscles. It's during the postexercise recovery period that your muscles repair themselves and grow stronger. Go for a walk at a leisurely pace, avoiding hills, rather than sitting on the couch for the next 48 hours.