When talking about our goals we often talk about all the awesome training we have planned to get us there. We talk about the workouts we will be doing, our weekly mileage, and the coaches we are using. We take time setting up intricate training plans. One thing that is just as important in that process, is recovery.
Training is a delicate balance between stress and recovery. In order to get optimal gains, you need to stress your body. This is the part of the training process that most runners focus on. However, this isn’t where the improvement comes from. The growth comes when our bodies recover and rebuild. A process often referred to as super-compensation. The body not only rebuilds back to where it was before the applied stimulus, but rebuilds stronger than it was before.
Running causes a lot of damage to your body. The body needs to recover broken down skeletal and muscular damage, micro-damage caused at the cellular level. The body works to replace depleted proteins, fat and carbohydrate stores. Even the endocrine systems and immune systems are impacted.
Failure to focus on recovery can have negative impact on all of your hard training. This includes feeling drained and fatigued during your everyday activities, a plateau in your growth, illnesses and injuries. There are many ways to aid in the recovery process.
- Fueling, Sleep and hydration
- These three items are the most important part of the recovery process. After a run, especially a workout, I will get something into my stomach within 30 minutes. Especially products high in protein. There are many options for post run snacks. Some runners like the simplicity of post run/workout shakes. They are specially formulated to give your body the needed nutrients needed for optimal recovery. I’m not a huge fan of premade shakes. I usually opt for something a bit simpler. If it’s the morning I will usually have some overnight oats prepared, or peanut butter and bananas later in the day.
- Following up fueling with hydration, water is king. When it’s hot out, I will mix in a sports drink or Nunn tablets to give my body that extra boost.
- When I am over training sleep is usually the first thing that suffers. As an avid runner, I have found that I need more sleep than many of my non-running friends. This makes total sense. I am putting my body through a lot.
- CompressionThere are soooo many compression options out there now. My favorites include my Air Relax Recovery System and some basic compression calf sleeves. I use my Air Relax boots almost daily, usually before my run. After running, I will throw compression calf sleeves on under my everyday clothes. It’s definitely harder to get away with this during the summer months.
- Foam Rolling I have a love/hate relationship with my foam roller. Foam rolling is the poor man’s massage and it hurts so good. When done correctly, foam rolling can promote circulation while pushing out metabolic waste. Be careful, there is such thing as too much!
- Light stretching after running is a great idea. I usually like to complete a little bit of light stretching in the shower also. Nothing crazy, too much stretching can actually cause more harm than good.
- Epsom Salt Bath Epsom Salt baths are definitely a favorite part of my recovery process as well. I like to give myself a good soak 2-3 times a week. I wrote about Epsom Salt bathes last year. Check it out.
- Recovery Runs
- I absolutely love to sneak in a recovery run after a hard workout. If I can get my workout completed in the morning, a nice 3-4 mile shuffle is a great way to jump start the recovery process and avoid that stiff achy feeling the next morning. If I get my workout completed in the evening, I like to wake up early to shuffle through 3-4 miles the next day. Then complete my regular schedule run later in the evening. If you are new or lower mileage runner, a 10-15 minute run or walk may give you similar benefits.
You body doesn’t differentiate stress. So if you are having a lot of stress, even non-running related. Give yourself a break. How do you focus on recovery so that you get the most out of your training?
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