So, you've run The Sun-Herald City2Surf presented by Westpac. But how do you avoid limping into work on Monday morning, or – worse – needing to stop by Prince of Wales hospital on your way home?
The good news is you probably haven't messed up your chance of a solid recovery at this point.
While conventional wisdom is that stretching before a race is essential, a recent study by Edith Cowan University suggests it has no effect on a runner's performance, and its impact on recovery is only slight.
"There is some evidence that pre-running stretching can minimise ‘bothersome soreness’, which is a broad term to describe the muscle and joint discomfort we sometimes feel in the hours or days after a long run, but the effect is only moderate," says Professor Tony Blazevich, lead author of the study.
However, static stretching (holding muscles in an elongated position i.e. sitting in a lunge, or touching your toes) after exercise is associated with a reduction in injury risk, as well as other benefits.
"Stretching reduces sympathetic muscle activity," explains Professor Blazevich. "That’s the ‘fight or flight’ response, reducing heart rate and stress."
Professor Blazevich recommends stretching all major muscle groups for two to three 15-30 second stretches following a race.
Once you have finished that, it is probably time for some food.
Sports dietitian Jessica Spendlove, whose clients include the GWS Giants AFL and netball teams, says your objectives when eating after intensive exercise should be to "replace what you've used, repair muscle damage and rehydrate".
"You want to be refuelling with some good quality carbohydrates, repairing muscle damage with lean protein and replacing all your fluid losses by consuming plenty of fluids," she says, adding that – unfortunately for those who head straight from the finish line to the pub – those fluids should be non-alcoholic, and ideally just water.
Luckily, this shouldn't be too hard to achieve with a standard Bondi cafe menu. Slow-release carbohydrates include oats, wholegrain sourdough, quinoa, sweet potato, brown rice and banana. While, for a protein hit, Spendlove recommends eggs, Greek yoghurt, milk and chicken.
After lunch, while some swear by an ice bath, there isn't much science to back the practice: an international study involving researchers from QUT and the University of Queensland published last year found no evidence that ice baths reduce inflammation in skeletal muscle, concluding the effect of cold water immersion on recovery was comparable to that of a standard cool-down.
And, if you still find yourself feeling a bit stiff the next morning and want tips for next year, Professor Blazevich says you should consider how you trained and, importantly, the surface you trained on.
"If anyone is running in the park [and] then tries to run on the road they’ll find themselves fatiguing quickly because the vibrational loading of running on a hard surface will cause micro-level muscle damage [which] causes delayed onset muscle soreness."