Recovery is key to performance in any sport. You can’t go 100% all the time and expect that you will keep improving.
The body reacts to stressors. Muscles have to be broken down in order to rebuild and come back stronger. What people often forget is the rebuilding phase. Taking a break shouldn’t be that hard, but it is. It’s hard to just stop, especially as runners. We were built to go!
Here are seven tips that runners can use to help with recovery and to avoid injury during long training months.
7 Recovery Tips
Begin your runs slowly, with an easy and relaxed stride. Beginning slowly helps ease your body into the run and prevents early burnout on your runs, helping you run farther. Gradually speed up as you go and as your body feels more comfortable.
Stretch for 5-10 minutes after every run. Don’t just immediately jump back into your car or work. Give yourself a few minutes to stretch out and you’ll feel much better as the day goes on. Stretching will help flush lactic acid out of your body and provides relief from muscle tightness and tension. I am guilty of rarely stretching, so I’m working on it! When I prioritize stretching it makes a huge difference immediately.
Drink water throughout the day. Keep an even flow so you are always hydrated. This will help you recover faster and perform better in all your workouts.
Learn to take 1-2 rest days a week. Rest days don’t have to be complete rest, but you should avoid running and do something that challenges your muscles in a different way. Work on stability and core training or treat yourself to a nice long yoga session.
Rotate your running shoes. Have a few pairs of running shoes so you can rotate through them. This allows the foam in your shoes time to spring back up between runs and also helps your feet to get fewer overuse injuries.
Focus on nutrition. Make sure you eat 200-300 calories with a mix of protein and carbs within 30-60 minutes of finishing your run. Smoothies or natural energy bars are great choices. These foods help you recover by sending nutrients to repair your muscles.
During a training cycle, take your average run volume down 30% for one week every 4-6 weeks. This helps you break up your training and prevent overuse injuries. It also prepares you for changing up your program and harder runs in the weeks following the volume and intensity reduction.
Give these tips a try during or after your next run. You should feel a difference in your strength and runs within the first few weeks, if not sooner.