A cool down run or walk is important to aid overworked muscles in their recovery. Shortly after your race is finished, spend five or ten minutes on a relaxed jog or walk. Moving around instead of plopping down as soon as the race is over will help improve blood flow and allow your body to get rid of lactic acid and other metabolic waste. In other words, you'll recover more quickly.
After your cool down, dedicate about ten minutes to stretching. Your muscles worked hard; they deserve to be treated to a nice stretch. Not only will this help with muscle recovery, but it will also help you decompress and reflect on your race day performance. Need some stretching inspiration? Check out these yoga poses for runners.
You just went through a lot of perspiration and lot of calories. It's time to reload! Re-hydrate (water now, beer later) and be sure to grab food that's high in protein and carbohydrates. If your stomach isn't excited about processing food yet, grab a chocolate milk or sports drink as a post-race appetizer.
Now that you've properly thanked your body for getting you through a grueling race, it's time to celebrate your accomplishment! Grab a beer if its being served and check out any post-race activities that might be taking place at your event. What? No beer is being served? We can help ease you into post-race decision making on Colorado beers!
*Featured image courtesy Ken Hawkins, via Flickr.