As mentioned previously there will be a few Guest Posts over the next few months (and beyond ?). The first one is here and it's from The Supplement Centre. I know that almost everyone who reads this will be familiar with the content but I feel it's always worth reminding ourselves about this very often overlooked aspect of training.
Three roads to running recovery
Being a runner is as much about the recovery process as it is about the run itself. If you don’t get the recovery part right, your body won’t be up for the running bit. You’ll be aching and tired and the last thing you’ll fancy doing is donning your trainers and getting out there.
So here are three things you need to think about after you’ve done a hard run. And they’re not chocolate, beer, and collapsing in a heap on the sofa. Sorry about that.
1. Think about what you put into your body
Basically, this comes down to three things:
- Liquid – a hard run will leave you dehydrated.
- Carbohydrates – a hard run will leave your glycogen stores depleted.
- Protein – a hard run will damage muscle cells, which need repairing.
The quickest way to get all three forms of nutrient into your body is to use sports supplements. Have one or two energy gels to hand, and consume these along with a non-carbonated sports drink as soon as you’ve finished the run.
For the next 24 hours, drink plenty of water and eat regularly. A balanced meal for a runner would be made up of 60% complex carbohydrates, 20% protein and 20% fat, plus a generous helping of fresh fruit and vegetables. During this time, avoid alcohol and caffeine as these will dehydrate you.
2. Think about what you do to your body
Get yourself into a swimming pool. Hydrotherapy will help flush everything out and keep the blood flowing to your legs. If you don’t have access to a pool but do have a bit of time, treat yourself to an ice bath. No ice? Try a cool bath or cold shower. Failing that, turn a garden hose on your legs. No, we’re not joking. Do not succumb to the comfort of a hot bath, as this will hinder recovery.
Once you have fed, watered and cooled your body, take care of those blisters that are likely to have developed.
A sports massage is a wonderful thing, but for the first 24 hours you should do little more than have a good rubdown. Save the sports massage for the next day, or you risk exacerbating the breakdown of muscle tissue brought about by the run.
3. Think about what you do with your body
Once you’ve replenished your water and nutrient levels after your hard run, your second priority is to do some stretching. Even better is to combine the two by walking around while you pop those energy gels and knock back that sports drink. If you don’t stretch, you will be so sore the next day that you’ll never want to run again – and for a while at least, you may not be able to
Next, try to get a good rest so you are ready for the last phase in your recovery – the recovery run.
In the wake of a marathon, you won’t find the professional runners at home, feet up, eating Pringles; they will be doing a recovery run – a slower, shorter run – because they know this is the best way to improve their fitness.
And now you know how to do that too. Good luck.