I have often been asked by treadmill runners of ways to speed up recovery after a long run. I have always found myself at loss for moments because there is not an only method. There are loads of ways in which one can recover from a long treadmill or outdoor run and each one has our favourite one that works best for us. I generally give out my personal favourites, cover a few others, and hope that they will soon discover their own success. Here is an outline of what works with most of us for runs that max 10 – 12 miles. Post-run recovery should be and is very different for marathon runners.
1. Fuelling Your Body Post-Run: Grab a small to moderate size meal having a carbohydrate-protein mix, within an hour of finishing your run. This helps repair muscles and build up the depleted glycogen levels in both the muscles and blood.
2. Stretch: After your run, you must walk for at least 10 minutes and then start with your stretches. Sitting immediately, (either at weight stations or to rest) is not recommended after long runs. Target your lower limb muscles while stretching. This will prevent DOMS of quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, soleus etc
3. Anti-oxidize: Though you will instantly feel the need for coffee, try to develop a taste for tea. It gives you a double boost – caffeine plus anti-oxidants. You will be best off with green tea. Black tea will also fight muscle soreness.
4. Sleep: Get the minimum 8 hours at night. If you feel specially drained, nap the afternoon as well. Listen to your body. The recovery period built-in are more important for your body than workout sessions. Give the body a chance to rest, repair and grow.
5. Brisk Walk/Jog Only: On the recovery day that follows the running day, do some light exercises. The recommended ones are stretching followed by light weights or just a brisk walk. If you plan to go for a long run again the following day, you must go no further beyond jogging short distances on recovery days.
Until next week, take care.