A long-haul flight isn’t a pleasant experience on any day, but I’ll say it’s especially harrowing the morning after you’ve completed a Spartan Beast. As proud as I was donning my #trifectatribe T-shirt, just getting to the airport was a trip in itself with my uncooperative
leaden poles legs, and a swollen ankle.
Luckily, this ordeal of flying after a race is now a few months behind me, so I wanted to share with you a few tips for race recovery if you too find yourself faced with a long-haul after a harrowing race experience. Looking back, I don’t know how I would have gotten through my 10-hour flight without these tactics!
1. Wear compression gear
The compression tights I wore helped loads in terms of helping me move, especially once it was time to disembark the plane. If you already have a good amount of swelling after a race, like I did considering I’d only finished the race around 7pm the night before, flying can only make that worse. Even if you’re not injured, your limbs swell on a plane, as I’m sure you know.
So it makes sense to invest in compression gear – this will help reduce swelling and allow for more natural, fluid circulation. More importantly, wearing compression can also prevent developing blood clots in limbs which increase risk of a stroke or death.
Looking back, I do wish I had also worn compression socks alongside my footless tights to relieve some of the discomfort in my (c)ankles. Compression socks and tights would’ve made a killer combo for flying.
2. Walk around and stretch regularly
Although I didn’t manage to snag an aisle seat, I was lucky enough to have good people in my seat row who let me out quite regularly. When it came to post-race aches and plane swelling, I felt so much better after walking it off for a few minutes.
If you are in an aisle seat, set a timer to stretch and walk around every 45 minutes. You don’t have to walk far – a couple of trips to the toilets and back will sort you out by helping recovery and fluid circulation. For an extra boost, do basic stretches and a couple of lunges too.
3. Take anti-inflammatory supplements
Turmeric is the strongest anti-inflammatory ingredient known to man and V’s secret weapon for boosting recovery. This potent spice is considered to reduce inflammation in muscle strains, arthritis and numerous other health issues. In short, it can help to relieve the physical stress put on your body.
One thing to be aware of is that turmeric only gets absorbed when it’s consumed with black pepper, so pills with both combined are the best way to consume this anti-inflammatory miracle worker on-the-go.
Another way to address inflammation, caused both by the excruciating race experience and by flying long-haul, would be to ingest alkaline foods or drinks. Alkaline foods will counter the acidity of an inflamed, post-race body and they tend to be easy to grab at the airport. Just find a place that offers smoothies with ginger, lemon, herbs, aloe vera and leafy greens.
4. Pack moisturiser (+antibacterial cream)
The air on an airplane is very drying, which doesn’t help to heal any scrapes you might have. I was glad to have packed moisturiser in my carry-on once the scrapes started to get tight and hurting due to the dry air. It’s a good idea to top it up every hour, along with some antibacterial cream to help the scrapes keep healing.
After the flight is over…
…do continue with numbers 2-4. Once you’ve arrived at your hotel, you may want to do light yoga or stretching to flush away some of the lactic acid causing you pain.
Next up, get earthed. We’ve explained how being in nature can help restore ionic balance, which will boost recovery, so go out and stand barefoot in the grass if you can or stand near a body of water. If you can’t do either of these, we would recommend sleeping on an earthing mat. Whilst they’re not the cheapest piece of gear, they really do make a difference after a hard day of training or racing.
Finally, allow for at least a couple of rest days upon your arrival to help your Central Nervous System (CNS) and soft tissues recover. This process of rebuilding and recovering nerve pathways would normally take up to a few days so take things easy. Even if you have a race a week after – you may not want to go super hard so as not to sacrifice long-term performance.
Do you have any tips for flying before / after races? We’re flying out (short-haul) for a few highly recommended races this year so would welcome any advice from other pros!
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