Whilst running has so many great health and fitness benefits, if we do not take the time to recover sufficiently our muscles and energy sources will quickly begin to suffer and have a negative effect on running performance…you can say goodbye to those PBs!
A lot of people research how to improve their running style and religiously follow schedules that tell them how far to run each week yet improvement in distance running is not made during the run but during the recovery!
Recovery comes down to reparing, resting and refuelling. The importance of recovery is very often underestimated, but is crucial to achieving those fitness and performance gains and to avoid that well known sensation of running through treacle.
We can lead incredibly busy lives so sneaking in runs at lunch time and rushing back might actually be detrimental if you’re not recovering properly. Elite runners will often spend 1-4 hours per day on recovery, but for us non-professionals that cannot dedicate this extensive amount of time, here are a few rules of recovery to stick to that will keep those tired legs feeling fresh.
Here are some simple things that you should remember to do:
Rules of Recovery
Recovery starts during your run, just as you warm-up, warm-down is equally as important .A gentle active cool down such as a very light jog will allow lactic acid (an unwanted by-product created by hard-working muscles) to be flushed into the bloodstream and removed from the body. It is also very important to stretch immediately after your run whilst the muscles are still warm and pliable.
2. Stretch for your goals!
It is also very important to stretch immediately after your run whilst the muscles are still warm and pliable. Your muscles are at their best state for improvement when they are warm after use so stretch decrease the chance of stiffness.
3. Hydrate fast
Once you’ve stopped, grab that water bottle! taking on enough fluid to replace fluid lost through sweat is very important in preventing muscle cramps or headaches post exercise. Fluid should be replaced gradually and will vary dependant on the length of run and the environment/temperature of the surroundings (there are numerous helpful tools online to calculate sweat loss and fluid replacement values). Electrolyte drinks are also great at enhancing re-hydration and replacing much needed minerals lost through sweat.
It is important to replace the energy lost during exercise as soon as possible ,ideally within a 90 minute window of finishing. It is advised to aim for a 4 to 1 ratio of carboyrates to protein. For example a good snack would be yoghurt and granola, or a banana and peanut butter bagel. Refuelling soon after your run helps with the process of rebuilding and reparing any muscle damage and replenishes lost minerals.
Refulling is another factor that is dependant on the intensity or duration of the run. For example, after running a fast 5k or training using shorter bursts/intervals, be sure to replenish good nutrients with fruit and vegetables, as well as carboyhrates and protein, but be careful not to overeat. Youre overall energy loss may not be that high.
Refulling after a longer run, for example a half marathon, you can consider increasing the protein and even the unsaturated fat content of your snack or meal as these would have been the predominant enrgy source throughout your run.
5. Foam Rolling & Massage
Foam rolling is a great way of pushing further metabolic waste from tired muscles and promoting circulation. Massage is of course a very fast and effective method of recovery. The benefits include increased circulation and removal of waste product, increasing movement and flexibilty, re-alinging fibres and breaking down sore muscle adhesions.
Often underestimated by many runners but is also crucial for allowing our muscles to repair and replenish compulsory minerals.
Consistency of following these rules of recovery will allow for the most optimal recovery and subsequent fitness and performance gains! You’ll be running quicker and won’t even realise! Are you ready to get those sore muscles back to normal?
The Recovery Studio is founded by qualified physio and running enthusiast Sophie Gover. For consultancies, advice and appointments you can find them here: