Now that the racing season is full on, to make sure you include all the important recovery factors in your training plan will help you get through all your training and races feeling strong, healthy, and avoid injuries. Proper recovery includes physical and nutrition plans.
- Stretching- Including regular stretching sessions after each run will look after tight muscles, joint release, and blood flow. Different muscles tighten during some runs, some muscles are always tight, others get tighter once other muscles get weaker due to fatigue or lack of muscle strengthening exercises. That is why it is very important to add some stretching exercises after every run and training sessions. Focus on the basic muscles; hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, glutes and piriformis, and chest.
- Foam Rolling- Including foam rolling sessions three-six times per week will have major benefits in loosening muscle tightness, and deep tissue release. Focus on all the basic muscles, even the back. When our back is tight, all the other muscles get affected.
- Sports Massage- Include a sport massage twice a month especially when running long-distance runs. Professional sport massages will loosen and relax all the muscles, and even our brain.
- Physiotherapy- It is important to include physiotherapy sessions as soon as you start feeling some acute or regular pain when running. To get the proper diagnosis and treatment will prevent any injuries.
Nutrition for Recovery
- Refuel- After a training session or race, it is important to include some recovery fueling within 30-60mins. Depending on running distance or stomach status, make sure you include some carbohydrates and light protein. The generic recommendation is 4:1 carbs/protein, but depending on the training intensity or distance and your body type as long as you include a minimum of 200-250 calories of carbs and light protein your body will replenish until your get to eat a proper meal. Recovery drinks are also another option for easier access and rapid intake. Especially when your body is very tired, eating solid foods might be a challenge (after running and Ultra), but taking a recovery drink will be beneficial and easy to digest.
- Rebuild- Long training runs or races, creates a constant natural breakdown of protein, it increases through stress on the muscles, tearing fibres. We need protein to help rebuild and repair the muscles. Our body can process 20-25g every 2-3 hours. Post-training you can include some protein powder (whey, plant-based, casein), and make sure you include protein in every meal and snacks (lean meat, fish, lentils, nuts, seeds etc). The recommended average daily protein intake is 1.5g/kg bodyweight. But for ultra-runners, the recommendation for male: 1.98g/kg bodyweight, for female: 1.78g/kg bodyweight. Healthy carbohydrates in every meal are also important. On training days, make sure you eat some healthy carbs, even through fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy grains. On rest days, you can concentrate on protein and healthy fats and lower carbs. Healthy fats help the body to absorb and process all the essential nutrients.
- Rehydrate- Rehydration is key to help with the body’s natural recovery process. You need enough fluid in your body to transport waste products out of the muscles and deliver recovery nutrients and electrolytes. To only drink plain water, might affect your kidneys, which will take longer to properly rehydrate and you might feel dehydrated. Combine plain water with some fresh electrolyte drinks; coconut water, beetroot juice, water with lemon or lime and some salt.
- Supplements to rebalance, repair and reinforce- Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and calcium are also used in energy production. After long runs, sweating, and being used in energy metabolism, the body gets depleted of the basic electrolytes, vitamins and minerals. They must be replaced regularly to restore the body’s normal function. Antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin D and C are essential to combat oxidative stress that occurs during intense training sessions, which can add to muscle damage. Other essential vitamins and minerals for runners are potassium, magnesium to help with muscle recovery, reduce fatigue and help with better sleep, vitamin B12 and B6 also help reduce fatigue. Good sources of vitamin B6 are kale, tuna, sunflower seeds. Zinc helps with protein synthesis. You can get a portion of these supplements through natural foods; green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli. Iron, a very common mineral ultra-runners get depleted of, especially women. To eat iron-rich foods to support the body oxidation should be part of your daily diet; meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables, combine it with some vitamin C foods (broccoli, kale, tomatoes, bell peppers, lemon, oranges strawberries) to help with iron absorption. Some omega3’s supplements are also essential for muscle and metabolism recovery, good sources are salmon, flax seeds, chia seeds.
Taking extra supplements for all the vitamins and minerals are also part of an ideal nutrition plan for ultra-runners. Running long-distance regularly, gets our body depleted of several nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Include multi-vitamins and extra supplements to protect your body and immune system.
Train Well, Eat Right, Feel Great!