We runners know how to follow training plans, push our bodies, and get our cross training in. But one thing we often neglect is a proper recovery. This part of the training can be just as key to your success as the mileage. Here are a few things you can do to help keep your body moving:
Legs up! Elevating those legs can work wonders after a long training run. Help avoid swelling and keep everything flowing by going upside down. This can be as simple as throwing your legs up on the couch. You can take it another level and elevate against the wall. You will feel so refreshed after a good 10-15 minutes of elevation. If you practice yoga, go ahead and do some shoulder stances or go for it and balance on your head. Any of these will help.
Compress: I have said this so many times and I feel like a broken record with my athletes. Compress those calves and you will feel so much better. Many runners, especially those who are just beginning or tackling a long training plan for the first time, experience shin splints and tight calves. Compression sleeves practically hug your calves and show them the love they need.
Skip them during the run. They are pricey and their biggest benefit is gained afterwards. Put them on under your clothes, or rock them as they are. If you are feeling really tight, I highly recommend a little night time compression session.
Salute the sun: Yoga has worked for ages for a reason. It can make a huge impact on your running too. Throw in some post run sun salutations, lunges and pigeon poses. These will help relengthen your hamstrings and open up your hips. Runners tend to be tight and our hamstrings and glutes often to take the brunt of the stiffness. Can’t get a full session in? That is totally fine. Just spend a good 10-15 minutes in front of the TV and stretch it out.
Hydrate! One of the biggest detriments from running is dehydration Your whole body feels this and your muscles are no exception. Proper hydration throughout the day will prepare your muscles for the next training session. Carry water with you throughout the day and sip away. This is extremely important during training cycles.
Fuel: Don’t forget to refuel your body after runs, especially your long slow distance runs and speed work. You should aim to get in some protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of your workout. A quick snack can do the trick, or make it a meal. Aim for a snack within those first 30 minutes and a larger meal a few hours after that. This is my favorite perk to running!
Roll it out: Foam rolling is a great way to keep your body in the game. Spend a few minutes post run, rolling out trigger points (areas where you feel aches and pains). Spend a minute or two in 2-4 inch sections where you feel tight or sore. Working on these “trigger points” will help realign muscle fibers. Follow this up with a few static stretches and your body will be good to go!
What are your best training recovery tips? Notice I didn’t mention ice baths. I just can’t bring myself to try it.