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  • Writer's pictureJack Mullaney

Don't Celebrate Too Soon

The way many athletes treat their bodies before a big race and the way they treat their bodies after a big race provides one of the most eye-opening 180s in our profession.

Ahead of a race, the body is treated like a Ferrari.

After the race, it's treated like a hand-me-down Chevrolet.

I get it. There's a stress release. Celebration is a natural response.

Just don't start the party too soon.

Reading Dr. Marc Bubbs' book, Peak: The New Science of Athletic Performance That Is Revolutionizing Sports, provided an airtight case for why recovery is so vital after a big physical effort.

To begin, the immune system is suppressed for at least four hours after an intense effort, a time period known as the "open window" for potential infection.

Getting a good night's sleep after competition is just as, if not more, important than the nights before. Check out this video of Dr. Matthew Walker explaining why this is the case.

Back to the the book. Bubbs reports that people who experience poor sleep quality are at 4-5 times greater risk of catching a cold, and if your total sleep time is less than 7 hours per night, you're at threefold increased risk.

Try adding alcohol to the equation. Bubbs writes that "when you drink alcohol late in the evening or too close to bedtime, it leads to an increased body temperature as your liver begins to metabolize the alcohol." This impairs sleep architecture and quality of rest, leading scientists to identify alcohol as "one of the most powerful suppressors of REM sleep."

Throw in a low quality, processed postrace meal and it's a perfect storm for sickness and impaired recovery.

Celebrating can have its place. But first, get a good meal. Hydrate. And get some sleep.

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