Tips for Optimum Running Recovery
Ever go out for a run and feel like your legs were made from jello? Of course you have, it's happened to any runner at some point along the way. Our first instinct is to think we overdid it. While that might be true, it's more likely to be caused not by over training, but by avoiding proper rest and recovery.
As runners, we like to train hard and fast and always remain focused on the next run or race. However, staying diligent with rest and recovery maximizes each training performance to better prepare for PR opportunities. Follow these top tips to recover after the physical and mental strain of arduous running activity.
Post Run Nutrition and Hydration
The standard rule of thumb for post-run recovery nutrition is the 20 after 20 rule, which is to consume 20 grams of protein within 20 minutes of training completion. However, that can be taken to another level with more of a balance meal approach that combines protein with replenishing carbohydrates and natural food nutrients. A fruit and veggie smoothie is a fantastic recovery fuel that provides balanced nutrition while also being extremely easy for the body to digest. Add some chia seeds for an additional aerobic boost.
And this is true whether you are or are not a runner...hydrate. Drink water all day, 8-10 glasses ought to do it.
Foam rolling is not a universally accepted running recovery method, but it's something that I've personally found to offer tremendous value. Whenever the legs start to feel a bit sluggish, a few minutes with the foam roller usually does the trick. By a few minutes, I mean just that. Five to eight minutes is plenty to wake up my leg muscles and rejuvenate for the next run. Focus on the quads, ITB, calves, and hamstrings.
Running compression gear has significantly grown in popularity over the past years. While the evidence is mixed regarding how it impacts the body while running, there is overwhelming evidence of improvements during post-run recovery. Benefits include increased blood circulation, faster recovery between runs and other training, and even controlling muscle oscillation that results from pounding during running.
Recovery sandals are designed to provide cushioning to absorb shock while at the same time conforming to the feet to provide arch support and proper, normal alignment. In the hour or so following a run, your feet are in a vulnerable state. They've just spent a considerable amount of time at work, and like the rest of your body, they're tired, swollen, and could use support while recovering from their most recent effort. Unlike standard flip-flops, sandals or slides, footwear designed specifically for recovery features sturdy, supportive foot beds underneath the arch and heel that allow fatigued feet to recuperate while you go about your day.
There is a huge anecdotal base for the use of ice baths. Some athletes swear by the use of ice baths after workouts and competitions. The proponents claim that a post workout or race ice bath will do one or more of the following for you: reduce muscle soreness after heavy exertion, keep muscles limber, repair muscles, reduce muscle and soft tissue inflammation, induce better sleep, reduce muscle pain, reduce muscle stiffness, prevent injury, speed recovery between training sessions, and feel good afterwards. All that being said, there is little scientific evidence to support these findings.
Massage not only promotes recovery, but it feels great too. Especially after races, this is a well-deserved and amazing way to show self-love. A good massage excites your muscles, pulls them from any sticky points to restore natural movement, and provides post-run therapy to energize prior to the next run.
The days following a long run should be low-key, with a focus on getting as much rest as possible. Try to stay off your feet for extended periods of time and prioritize sleep, especially the night after your long run. Runners need more sleep than non-runners, and the body best repairs itself during REM sleep stages. Without proper sleep, there won't be proper recovery.
Thank you for reading. Keep doing amazing things. And however you run, Run Uncommon.
The Uncommon Runner