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How long does it take to recover from a 10K race

Running a 10K race can leave you feeling sore, but how long does the soreness last?

Photo by: Maxine Gravina

A 10K race can be physically taxing on your body. You push your body’s aerobic boundaries for 40 minutes to an hour. The further the race, the longer you need to give your body time to recover. Post-race recovery is something many runners don’t consider before their race, since runners focus, first and foremost, on getting to the finish line. Allowing adequate time for recovery can ultimately help prevent injuries and improve your fitness.

Running Motivation
Runners finishing a race. Photo: Fred Goris

Racing a 10K requires a bit more recovery than you think. The general rule of thumb for this distance is to take one day of rest per mile raced. Therefore, after a 5K, most runners will require a recovery period of two to four days. After 10K, runners will generally take three to six days off high-intensity training.

The rest period does not mean to halt all running or exercise, but a break from speedwork and high-intensity training. Rest days can include easy runs, swimming, biking and even lifting weights at the gym at an easy intensity level.

The reason easy exercise is encouraged during recovery is that it helps bring essential nutrients and oxygen to your soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) and blood flow to repair the body. Low-intensity exercise like the elliptical or spin bike will not put too much stress on already sore muscles.

The best way to determine how much recovery you need is to see how your body feels the morning after your race.

On day three of recovery, see if there’s still soreness there. If there are still aches and pains, take another recovery day. If there is no soreness, try a 20- to 30-minute easy run or 30 minutes on the bike. Monitor your body’s recovery day by day and try easy recovery methods like icing, foam rolling and rest to speed up the process.