You train hard. You eat right. You have the motivation. Now to get the final piece of the puzzle in place – recovery!
While there are no magic bullets or easy paths to keeping your body together as the days and weeks of training build. There are all sorts of methods to help reduce the aches and pains of the daily running grind and hopefully mitigate against injury. In isolation the below suggestions can have positive outcomes, but the best approach is to use as many of them as possible across your regime. By building recovery sessions into your weekly program you’ll not only benefit from the rejuvenating effects, but will more likely commit to doing them on a regular basis.
One of the best ways to reduce general inflammation and speed up recovery is to have an ice-bath. They’re not to be overused though, because inflammation is an important part of the tissue repair process. It’s as easy as once a week after your Sunday run, grab a couple of bags of ice and fill up the bathtub. Submerge your body (to your belly button) in the icy slurry for 10 minutes.
This is the most important thing for recovery of both your body and mind. A quality 8-10 hours a night should be the goal, even if it means having the discipline to hit the hay half way through your favourite movie. In a perfect scenario a nap during the day is a bonus….this is probably only a weekend option for 99% of us!
In an ideal world, a weekly massage would be great. But not all of us have the time and money for it. However one really hard massage a month is a valuable inclusion and will work well when combined with other recovery techniques. You can also self-massage by working on trigger points or using a foam roller.
Rehydrate and Refuel
Keeping well-hydrated and refuelling immediately after training is a huge help in the recovery process. The quicker you can replace lost electrolytes and get some carbs and protein into your body, the sooner you’ll start rebuilding the damage you’ve done. It’s also a good idea to increase your iron and protein intake to coincide with volume increasing.
The easiest way to keep on top of the aches and pains of training is to include regular stretch sessions as part of your routine. 15 minutes of an evening while watching TV and a 30-minute stretch of a weekend is not hard to do, considering most of us would just be sitting in front of the idiot box anyway!
Wearing a compression garment, such as Skins or 2XU socks/tights, may aid in reducing inflammation by improving venous blood flow. This also means all the by products of training are removed faster. Theoretically they also decrease vibration while running which inturn decreases tissue damage. While the jury is out on compression garments, even if it’s a placebo effect, it’s worth trying.
Alternating hot and cold showers creates a muscle pump effect. The idea being this in-turn gets all the bad stuff out and the good stuff in. This technique involves standing under the shower for 1min at 38 degrees followed by 1 min at 12 degrees, repeating the cycle for 6-12mins.
Having the occasional day off or easy day is as good as a quality session. It’s important to build rest days into your program. For the more accomplished runners it can be as simple as only doing an easy 8km on a Friday, and for the less experienced a complete day of rest every week is highly recommended.
The less stress you have in your life, the better. It’s common sense. Start by managing external pressure and stresses that come from everyday life. Avoid conflict, plan your time efficiently and where possible share the load with others in your support network. It’s also important to learn to switch off post training and racing. Having distractions that allow you to think about things other than your running will help keep you excited and passionate about it and also avoids fixating on how you’re training or over-analysing things.