The formula to running success is simple and straightforward: you run, you recover, then you run some more, period. Though most runners get the exercise ends right, recovery is mostly neglected. True to form, research after research show that proper recovery is key for both performance and long term consistency.
Therefore, whether you’re looking to shed some pounds or to nail your next marathon, here are some of the best running recovery practices.
Cool Down and Stretch
A proper recovery strategy starts on the running field. Consequently, make sure to always end your running workouts with a proper cool down. Stopping on the spot can only leave you feeling dizzy and disoriented, and can increase the likelihood of muscle soreness and fatigue afterwards. The cool down starts off the shift between running and getting back to your day.
As a result, make sure to bring your running pace down gradually. Aim for at least a 10-minute slow jog while taking deep breaths. When your heart and breathing rates are back to their normal rates, you could perform some easy stretches. Mainly you ought to stretch your hip flexors, calves, hamstrings, and the lower back. Hold each stretch for 30-second and remember to breathe deeply into each stretch to release any tightness or built-up tension.
Eat for Recovery
Your diet habits can either hinder or speed up recovery—all depending on the eating choices you make. Proper post-workout eating is key for muscle repair, flushing out metabolic by-products and replenishing the empty energy tanks. This can help you ward off fatigue, injury and boost your performance in all areas of life.
The rule of thumb is ‘the sooner, the better’, meaning the quicker you’re able to provide your body with the essential nutrients, the faster you recover. So aim to ingest something right after finishing a run. Make sure to get plenty of protein, which is key for muscle repair and growth, and the good carbohydrates for energy replenishment. Research shows that taking the two mutually works best.
Rest and recovery go hand in hand. While running puts stress on the body, starting off physiological adaptations, it’s only during the rest period that these changes can actually occur. Therefore, if you don’t get enough rest, all the sweat is for nothing.
Therefore, make sure to get plenty of rest—especially after a hard workout. Aim for at least eight hours of high quality and interrupted sleep during the night’s time. Furthermore, you could also space out your training days with a recovery day. During the off days, you could choose to cross-train or to do nothing. Your choice.
Repeat, and Repeat Some More
Long term success is matter of repetition. Therefore, to recover right, you need to practice the above principles on nearly daily basis—and that’s no easy feat. Nevertheless, doing something is better than opting for nothing. Aim to build the skill of repetition into your practice. Make small changes and build on that. And in no-time, proper recovery practice will come in handy.