• Illuminator Team

Race Prep & Recovery


Race Prep and Recovery

Author details:

Bruce Mutch

Director of Aberdeen Sports Massage

Sports Physiotherapist with SPEAR Physiotherapy, Netball Scotland, Cricket Scotland and the Scottish Institute of Sport


Preparation and Recovery

Firetrail have done the business again in creating an event that might just turn out to be the most challenging event of the year to many of its participants. Whether you are looking to complete the full Illuminator Run, or whether you've signed up to walk or run one of the two shorter distances; your body will know all about it come the morning! That's where your pre-race preparation and post-race recovery is key to being at your best on the start line. And of course so you can continue to enjoy being active for the rest of the year without any niggles or injuries!


When it comes to preparation and recovery, my mantra is simple: “Nail The Basics” and then consider being fancy after that. If you can do the simple things and supplement that with some extras as you feel is appropriate, then you won’t go far wrong. Let’s go over those basics now:


1. Pre-race warm-up


Recovery begins before the gun goes. We advocate a dynamic warm-up before a race. You should look to increase your heart rate with a 10min fast walk / jog followed by some dynamic movements. Squats, lunges, leg swings and any other exercise that don’t involve you holding a stretch for a period of time are all a good investment in reducing problems further down the trail. Holding static stretches before a race is not thought to help a great deal, so save yourself some time and be dynamic!


2. Immediately post-race

Immediately Post Race

As tempting as it might be, don’t just stop! That is when you stiffen up and begin to feel problems. Research points towards a 7-10min “cool down”. How? If you have been running, finish with a moderately paced walk after the line. If you have walked, slow the pace down and keep going for a little bit. You might walk your car anyway but make sure you try to get over the 7min mark. This is also a good time to finish with some slow dynamic stretches and repeat the movements that you completed pre-race. Again, research would suggest a negative effect from holding stretches at this point, so keep moving.


3. The next few days / week

The next few days...

Hopefully any stiffness and aches are already reduced by following the above advice! Anything left over can usually be eased with some active recovery. This term basically covers any sort of low-intensity exercise, preferably non-impact, that can get your body moving and heart rate up to get the rest of the hard earned soreness out of your legs. You may want to put aside a recovery day where you spend 20-30mins static stretching (yes, this is the time to do this!), foam rolling or even coming in to see us for a massage.


I already do all the basics, what else can I do?

Well, as I mentioned above, you can supercharge your preparation and recovery by using a few other methods.


4. Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy

Race preparation and recovery is the speciality of Aberdeen Sports Massage - and for good reason. Research shows that Massage Therapy can help reduce injuries in the build up to the race, improve your performance and also help you recover afterwards.


Clients will often check in monthly in the build-up to an event, the week before the event and/or the week afterwards. It can be a really nice way to take a back seat for an hour and let someone else do some hard work towards your goal.











5. Compression Garments

Compression Tights

There is some good evidence at the moment showing a benefit from wearing compression garments like leggings / shorts / socks after training sessions and events.


It is something that forms a key part of most elite sport teams that I work with. Some studies have shown that wearing these garments for 24hrs post-exercise can improve muscle soreness symptoms for up to 4 days later.





6. Cold Immersion / Ice Bath

Monkey See, Monkey Do!

A bit more of an uncomfortable option here ... but some people find a great benefit from a cold bath. After hard sessions, I am one of those. There are plenty of people who swear by it, and if you do use it and you feel it helps, then you should definitely continue. Research is not conclusive enough at this point to propose it to everyone. There is some evidence that suggests an 11-15min soak in a bath of 11-15 °C temperature might be beneficial in reducing soreness, and this is much less uncomfortable than hopping into a wheelie bin of ice!


Wishing you a great running and sporting season, Bruce - Aberdeen Sports Massage


** Claim a 10% discount on massage sessions at Aberdeen Sports Massage by quoting “Illuminator 10” when paying for your appointment **

- - Valid until 22 November 2019 - -

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