Marathon/Tough Mudder/Spartan/race season is here. Fast starts create faster finishes and the best way to get a leg up on your competition is by keeping your legs feeling fresh . Below, are our top three keys to success for fresh legs…

ICE BATHS

After Usain Bolt won three gold medals at the track-and-field world championships this August, he Instagrammed a video. “I’m about to do one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life,” he said. Then he sat in a bathtub filled with ice water, calling out to God as it reached his nether regions.

Pretty much every professional jock these days concludes his workouts with a pulse-racing, ball-shriveling ice bath. And guess what: It’s every bit as effective for us weekend warriors, arguably the fastest way to undo the damage of a pickup ball game, a Tough Mudder, or a vigorous session on the Wii. But most amateurs think they can get by with a couple of Advils and a bag of frozen peas.

“Sure, you can use an ice pack over your knee,” says Aaron Nelson, head of the Phoenix Suns’ vaunted athletic-training team. “But if you have overall body soreness, an ice bath is the only way to go.” The science is solid: Cold reduces joint inflammation and constricts your blood vessels, which then dilate when the body warms up post-bath. That’s when your muscles get a rush of blood, which flushes out lactic acid—the stuff that’s causing your next-day aches.

-GQ

DAYS OFF

Although it may seem counterintuitive, gains in fitness actually happen when you rest, not while you’re training. Your body needs to recover in order to absorb the work that you have done and to allow the physiological adaptations to a training stimulus to take place.

-Real Buzz

LOWER BODY FOCUS DAY & CONDITIONING DAY AT THE HOUSE

There’s no better way to prepare your legs for battle and increase your endurance! The stronger your legs, the fresher they will feel leading up to race day.

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