It’s common for many runners to finish a run and not perform and stretches, or any other recovery activities even before sleep time. But in many ways, our post run routine can be just as important as our training to release our muscle and joints to avoid any intense soreness or injuries and to support our running plan.
Tips to Boost Our Running Recovery to the Next Level
1. Cool Down- Release those muscles.
Just as a warm up gets our body ready for exercise, a cool down helps our body to get back to that state of rest. A cool down will help our breathing and heart rate slow down, and our muscles relax.
It also helps our body to eliminate lactic acid and waste products from its muscles by aiding blood flow to those areas.
How fast should our cool down be?
It depends on our level of running.
But our cool down run or walk should be done at a slower pace than our base training pace so that we don’t put any extra stress on your body.
How long should our cool down be?
Once again, this depends on the level of a runner we are. But our cool-down should last at least 5-10 minutes, especially after long runs.
2. Stretch- Prevent injuries and recover faster.
Improve Overall Performance- When people run regularly, their muscles repeatedly flex and contract. If people choose not to stretch afterwards, their muscles remain tight. Muscles that are lengthened and released over time, from stretching , will increase muscle power and performance.
Prevent Injuries- Some of the most common injuries happen in combination with the knees and ankles, both that can be prevented with some regular stretching. Muscles need to be warmed up before physical activity, but also stretching improves muscle flexibility and helps prepare them for the workload they’re about to take on for the run.
Ample Muscle Recovery – Muscles need blood flow to help repair small tears they’ve experienced after a run and that’s where stretching comes into play. If we’re running and want to see improvement, stretching will help just that. Post-run stretching increases blood flow in the muscles and allows them to repair themselves more efficiently, and reduces our muscle soreness.
How to stretch post-run
Static stretches are the way to go post-run. We should focus on performing a stretching routine on our legs, hips, glutes, lower back, shoulders.
We shouldn’t overstretch our muscles after a run, our muscles are tight, post-run we should only stretch within our normal range.
And we don’t need to stretch for long to get the benefits, just 5 minutes is better than none. To perform longer and more stretches at night time will be very efficient to support our muscles.
3. Foam Roll- Relieve muscle soreness and increase our mind-body connection.
It is a good idea to make foam rolling a regular part of our post-run routine, it’s truly science-backed.
In a study, researchers found that foam rolling for just one minute can improve an athlete’s range of motion, while another study found that foam rolling after intense runs or exercises can relieve muscle soreness over the next two days.
Foam rolling can also increase a runner’s mind-body connection.
Working out where all of those tight spots are in our body gives us the opportunity to work on loosening them.
4. Shower- Cooling down and rehydration for our body.
As we run, we sweat. This makes our skin the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Getting straight into the shower after a run is a great way to wash off any unhealthy and smelly bacteria.
Showering also helps to clean our pores.
As we sweat, our pores open to release sweat from our sweat glands. These pores can then become clogged with dead skin and bacteria if we’re not able to jump in the shower soon after a sweaty run.
5. Rehydrate- Replenish water and electrolytes lost in sweat.
Water is essential for life, it makes up 60% of our body weight and plays a key role in almost all of our human body’s functions. So it’s important to stay hydrated.
It is normal for runners to be modestly dehydrated when we get back from a run, as long as we replenish and rehydrate as soon as possible.
For every kilogram of bodyweight that we lose via dehydration, the advice is that we drink one and a half litres of water. We can see on our GPS watch the estimated sweat loss data.
But we can also simply drink to quench our thirst, that’s also listening to our body.
According to a study, sports drinks containing carbohydrates increase water absorption into the bloodstream. So if we’re feeling very thirsty it might be a good idea to drink a sports drink or some diluted juice.
If we’ve been running for less than one hour, then plain water is a good option, unless we’re running in high heat and humidity, then we still need electrolytes for recovery. However, if we’ve been running for more than one hour, we will need to replace our electrolytes too.
This can either be done by drinking a sports drink, or using electrolytes tablets or salted snacks.
6. Refuel- Replenish glycogen stores and rebuild muscle.
For good recovery, we should try to eat a meal or snack as quickly as possible after getting back from a run.
More specifically, we should aim to eat within 30-60 minutes of getting back from our run.
We need to make sure that our meal or snack contains carbohydrates, to replenish our lost glycogen stores, and protein to help repair and rebuild our muscles. Aim for about a 1:3 ratio of protein to carbohydrates.
7. Have an Ice Bath (optional!)- Feel invigorated and relieve sore muscles.
Elite athletes are big fans of ice bath, it could help to boost our recovery. Ice bath can help to relieve muscle soreness and fatigue.
But ice baths are not that easy, if we don’t feel like making an ice bath as part of our post-run routine, another option is to switch to cold water at the end of our shower. Even 1 minute of cold shower has many benefits to relieve muscle soreness and fatigue.
8. Sleep- Absorb our hard training efforts.
Sleep is top when it comes to running recovery.
Sleep is very important, it’s definitely quality over quantity, so getting a routine that allows us to get deep sleep, especially in peak training, is key to absorbing the hard training efforts needed to get faster and stronger. Performing at our peak isn’t all just about the training we do, it is also highly dependent on our quality of sleep.
Top tips to improve our sleep
Don’t consume caffeine during the afternoons. It is best to restrict our caffeine intake to the mornings.
Avoid alcohol consumption before bed. Alcohol can disrupt our sleep and leave us feeling groggy the next day.
Reframe our sleep as being part of our post-run routine. It’s all about mindset and prioritising this part of our recovery.
We should avoid high-stress activities during the evening. Reading a nice book can be very relaxing.
9. Recovery Days/Runs- Get our blood pumping and our muscles back in action.
The day after a big run, performing an active recovery workout can help us bounce back faster.
Active recovery workouts are low-intensity exercise sessions that get our body moving.
Some examples of active recovery workouts include Yoga, gentle Pilates, walking, aqua jogging, easy swim or cycling, or even low-effort short runs. Active recovery can often be much more beneficial for recovery than doing nothing at all.
This is because our body recovers from exercise by delivering nutrients to our muscles via our bloodstream. Because of this, anything that increases the amount of blood pumping through our muscles is going to speed up recovery, as long as it’s gentle, and not causing more damage. During a recovery day, if we don’t move at all, we will feel our muscles very tight.
Run, Recover Well, Feel Good, And Increase Your Running Level!